Beast Coast to Best Coast: Its art art everywhere…

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When I worked in DC, I used to walk out the front door of my office building and across the street to the National Portrait Gallery, to think.  I’d stroll and think. It was the perfect place to do so; with free admission you can simply pop in for 15 minutes and roam the halls, rubbing elbows with America’s earliest painters or modern photography exhibits, just long enough to get your mind working in a different direction again.

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Now when I walk out the front door of my office building, I quickly find myself at Michael Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s a block east of CNN’s LA bureau on Sunset and Cahuenga. A news ticker streams the headlines across the street to Amoeba Music, one of those old dinosaurs–a real live record store.  If you were wondering where to find the best pizza in all of Hollywood, let me just tell you, this place is like walking into and out of Brooklyn just crossing the threshold.  If you tweet Joe’s Pizza @joespizzait they will give you 15% off your order.  They’re on Hollywood Blvd. and Wilcox.dc3

Note to self: Don’t get derailed by the costume shops and bewildered tourists muddling over the pink and black, flecked terrazzo streets. Hollywood Blvd. can seem like a strange place, but the buttoned up hipster kids are really just programmers and the cats with the full sleeve tattoos are the graphic designers. Trailer Park, the entertainment marketing agency that puts out the slickest movie trailers for blockbuster films and designs campaigns for the latest video games, is just up the boulevard.

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Walk down Wilcox to Selma and you’ll see one of the most precious gems of all. The empty building directly on the corner gets buffed over almost every day because almost every night street artists put up new wheat pastes.  If you catch it at the right time, you can find some pretty epic work.

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Art that is born from a determined, rebellious spirit and put into action, long after the rest have resigned to the morning. Art that knows no boundaries, for better or worse, in the search for a voice.  The same way that a good and gritty ground game in a campaign can achieve an eloquent brilliance. Or epic disaster. But somehow still give everyone a good laugh.

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During the election, it was awesome.

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I started snapping them with my iphone whenever I was quickly passing by, then posting the photos to Instagram.  Different artists have found the posts and its connected me to new friends and collaborators. The pieces I’ve spotted have been so unique and special to me, for their content but also for their ephemeral timeliness, like pop culture hitting you on the head with a hammer. Then disappearing the next night. A real live street art twitter.

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That’s the fortunate thing about doing what I do, in the place I do it.  We consistently embark on new creative endeavors.  Surrounded by corporate news headquarters and small powerhouse production shops, 15 minutes to the local government of Downtown LA, and never too far from a coffee shop for those long and caffeine-fueled brainstorming sessions. We strike a chord between fine art and street art.  Guerrilla film-making and presidential advance.  Nestled in the craziest little neighborhood, but ready to travel anywhere, in the name of inspiration.

Wet Weekend Warrior: Not your watered down round up!

Last week I trekked the 2,600 miles back to the homeland of LA.  After a year and a half of living on the East Coast, I found it rather quaint that people on the West Coast were complaining about the “heat.”  To me, 90 degrees with no humidity and a cool ocean breeze that settles in around 6pm, is hardly the tough life! Back on the East Coast, having just nearly missed the dreaded Hurricane Irene, we’ve been facing a week-long, non-stop downpour here.  Which brings me to the weekend plans:  You may remember that I miraculously beat the crowds and scored tickets to Virgin Mobile Freefest back in July.  And now here we are, a day before the long-awaited event, and I can’t seem to find anyone still willing to go!  Granted, its supposed to be raining all weekend and, well, its been raining so much that the Merriweather grounds may be more akin to a slip n’ slide fail.  Still, Cee Lo Green, Black Keys, Ghostland Observatory, Deadmaus5… does anyone want to go to tomorrow’s festival?  Let me know! I could swing either way. Speaking of…Lest you think its all rainy Jane around here, let’s remember some of the things we do when the sun is out!  The acroyoga friends we made at Meridian Hill Park last month have put together a really cool video. Go to the Facebook Acroyoga page, scroll down and ‘like’ the video posted by Elizabeth Tomber here: http://www.facebook.com/acroyoga Help send them to California in a contest for Divine Play Acroyoga.

And also… on to the serious stuff. Reality. No really. There really is a cool event coming up. Seriously. For realz. For really. For real-ity.  NYC friends, Boulder, CO friends, China, Indonesia, Paris friends, from DC to the Dominican Republic. Thailand to Tunisia, anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can be apart of something together.  Acknowledgment of science.  A dose of reality.

We’re one week away. Yeay!

CH-ch-ch-check it.

-Aimee

“Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” Movie Review

Spoiler Alert! A rhythm recipe that you’ll savor. Doesn’t matter if you’re minor or major. For almost everyone who was growing up in the 1990s, there’s a special place in our hearts for the evolution of hip hop as an art form.  If hip hop were born in the ’80s, simple but straight up, honest if not humorously raw, then the 1990s were the teen and young adult years.  The years when hip hop started to spread its wings, push the boundaries and make up new rules to live by.  The years where we started to take hip hop very flippin’ seriously.

The boys of Tribe were also teens and young adults coming up in the late 80s and early 90s, redefining the way Americans looked at race, rhymes, strength, conviction and artistry. Michael Rappaport’s film is a sincerely intimate delve into the formation and the ensuing success of this legendary group, and then the realities of life that inevitably set in.  The film does not tell the predictable sex-drugs-rock-n-roll story of decadence that usually follows our stars, but explores the realities of miscommunication, the struggle for identity and control, and the imperfection of the human body.

From Q-tip and Phife Dawg’s disintegrating childhood friendship, to Phife’s struggle with his health, Rappaport spares no details.  At one point we are backstage at their Rock the Bells reunion tour in 2008 and Phife has been giving Tip the silent treatment for so long that the palpable tension erupts into a hot and bothered shouting match.  Dj Ali just remains silently caught in the middle of the unhealthy triangle.In other, very sobering moments, we face the reality that Phife desperately needs a kidney transplant and finds a donor in what is the most genuinely tear-jerking love story I’ve seen in a long time. (Seriously, if you’re like me you really will cry.)

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We all know that bands come and go and relationships change and sometimes fall apart. People are imperfect and don’t live forever.  But truly what lasts is talent. The film is a funky love song to Tribe and the music that helped make us who we are.The last thing to flash across the screen at the conclusion of the film is a hopeful and almost tongue-in-cheek line about how the group still owes one last album to Jive Records. Here’s to hoping…

For the cats in DC, you can (and should) catch this flick at the E Street Cinema. That’s all for now vivrant things!

–Aimee

8th Annual DC Dance Festival: Break Dance Battleground and Doug E. Fresh

On the weekend of July 22 – 24 the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities held its 8th Annual DC Dance Festival.  Yesterday on Sunday, July 24th the festival culminated in a break dance battle and performances in front of the National Portrait Gallery on F street in between 7th and 9th. Hip hop legend Doug E. Fresh also performed and had the crowd bumpin’ as a warm but lovely breeze swept through the streets, sufficiently keeping the swamp a city. Doug E. Fresh is the self-proclaimed Original Beat Box and its true that the sounds he makes sound like they’re coming from a machine. He rocks.There were some pretty sweet graffiti artists along 9th street that were happily working away for the curious onlookers.The festival included movie screenings and performances all weekend but the block party finale brought out the dancers, the divas, the urban chic and hip hop hotties. Even Superman made an appearance.The event was a blast and the perfect place to people watch. Or else… be the people being watched. (Anyway its not my fault music makes me want to jump for joy.) That’s all for now G’s.

–Aimee

Scoring tickets to Virgin Mobile Freefest is Fierce: I get by with a lil help from my friends

If you’re anything like me, the combination of the words “free” and “music” is like, well, free music to your ears.  And as it turns out, most people ARE like me because there was the electronic equivalent of a super market raid before a storm at the Virgin Mobile Live facebook fanpage today.

Virgin Mobile (yes part of the Virgin empire created by super dashing business mogul Richard Branson) throws a music festival at Merriweather, the shabby chic shed venue in Columbia, MD. The line-up this year is fantastic and Merriweather is, so far, my favorite venue on the East Coast.However, FreeFest isn’t shaping up to be free for all.  Grrrr. There were some seriously frustrated folks this morning. Starting at 10 AM you could register for free tickets if you ‘liked’ their fanpage on facebook and then clicked a link and kept refreshing like a maniac for the next 10 minutes. Because I think by 10:09 AM all the free tickets were gone.  I was one of the unfortunate folks who kept receiving an error page instead of the proper link to get my tickets. BLAST! 

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In my musical manic panic I was gchatting with my friends who are festival gurus and somehow they got extra tickets and somehow… somehow… with a lil help from my friends… I scored tickets in the end! They got extra through presale and it was just a happy end to the story, after all. Hooraaaaaaaaaay!

So this post is a heartfelt thank you to my lovely friends and a musical shout out to everyone!  If you still want to go to Freefest there are still tickets available, for a price! In their own words, they aren’t sold out they’re freed out.

That is all for now.

-Aimee

Hill Country Karaoke: Say Yee-Haw to Hump Day!

Have YOU been to Hill Country on 7th and D in Penn Quarter yet?  Might I suggest you pull those cowboy boots outta the closet and mosey on over to the rockin-est, rollin-est, beer served in mason jars to rowdy crowds at long wooden tables, Texas BBQ kinda place this close to Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday nights Hill Country has a live band host karaoke downstairs in the basement, where the bold (and quite possibly inebriated) step up on stage and run the show, for at least the entire duration of their pop song.  That’s the other thing, don’t let this menu deceive you, its not just Country karaoke.  The band plays all types of mainstreamy, radio-friendly, can’t-help-but-sing-along-from-your-seat tunes.  I sang Cee Lo Green’s hit “Forget You” (although the bar crowd version) with some awesome ladies and let me just tell you, it is way more fun than most Wednesdays normally warrant.

And, ya know partner, they even have a costume corner just in case you really are feelin’ that urge to don a ten gallon before you sing your Bon Jovi song.

One last note on this wonderful Wednesday retreat down South, Hill Country has an AWESOME salad bar for those of us who don’t eat meat!  Just expect to get a bit of a chuckle from the chef when you ask for the vegetarian options.

Catch ya around the corral, cuties!

-Aimee