Toylit drawing…

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…for the cover of his play Astral Dick.


BTP logo (Little Nuts) 1x1 website

Brass catalog color 4

25th Abbot Kinney Festival, Sunday, Sept. 27

The Abbot Kinney Festival is back for the 25th time and will happen on Sunday, September 27th, 2009. 150,000 people are expected to attend. There will be five stages with music, tons of exhibitors and lots of vendors. The Abbot Kinney Festival Association is a nonprofit organization with an annual grants program to promote Venice based service organizations, so feel free to help them out and grab a poster or T-Shirt at the event or their online shop.

A list of the bands:

10:30 am M.K and the Gentlemen –
11:20 am Lady Katherine –
12:10 pm Musket –
12:55 pm Stephanie Quayle –
1:40 pm Elevaters –
2:30 pm Peter Goetz –
3:20 pm Miss Willie Brown –
4:20 pm Venice –
5:30 pm Brig Band –

FMLY STAGE – Andalusia Avenue
10:30 am Babystone –
11:30 am Kenneth Pattengale –
12:30 pm The 87 Stick Up Kids –
1:30 pm Haim –
2:30 pm Jack Littman –
3:30 pm Awards Presentation for Spirit of Community Award and AKFA Community Grants Progrm
4:30 pm Juliette Commagere –

10:00 am Family Parade from California Ave. to Westminster Ave.
10:15 am Aaron Nigel Smith & The FUNdamentals Band – songs for infants, toddlers & preschool children using guitars and African djembe drums.- Youtube |
10:45 am Ina Buckner-Barnette – Drum circle and interactive animal storytelling show
11:15 am David Tobocman – “Very Helpful Songs” for children – |
11:45 am Mamma Maria – Big Band Music for the whole family
12:05 pm Teen Theatrical Performance by Inside Out Community Arts
12:35 pm Kids on Stage
1:00 pm Aquamantra – RECYCLE-ution song by Gina Rene with giveaways by Aquamantra Waters –
1:25 pm Everybody Dance – Youth Dance Group –
1:50 pm Shoeflies – Energetic Rock and Bluegrass Band
2:20 pm Gina Rene / The Urban Musical Goddess – Hip Hop music about social change –
2:40 pm Intersection Dance Ensemble – Modern dance company –
3:00 pm Rock Music by R5 –
3:30 pm Ana Rosas – Hip Hop Artist and Dancers
3:50 pm Sandy Bowles – Spoken Word
4:05 pm The Hot Kicks – Australian Indie Rock Band –
4:45 pm Get Lit Players – Classical Teen Poetry Troupe with a hip hop twist –
5:15 pm Superbroke Brass, Tin and Strings Electric Marching Band –

New pics uploaded to the Lower Topanga Photo Archive


There are about a dozen more from pro photographer David Blattel, circa 2002 (I mixed them in with the ones that were already there — sorry!):

And a few cool surf shots from recent years by J. Murph:

The Whole 9

I just attended a great workshop by Ashley McLean Emenegger of McLean Fine Art at The Whole 9 gallery in Culver City on the business of being an artist. The Whole 9, aside from being a cool gallery space with informative workshops, is also a great website where you can create an online portfolio, look for jobs and events, and network with local creative people. Check it out at

And if you’re still into surfing the internet afterwards, stop by my website to browse through photographs and hear music by the Venice Arts Club!

James Mathers & Norton Wisdom @ Black Cat Festival V (9-26-09)

11523 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066
310. 313. 4931
Enter Black Cat Site

Penny-Ante: Three @ Stories Books & Cafe

Penny-Ante: Three event @ Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park (9-15-09)

Toylit reading flyer color 3 ps

Flyer 1

Toylit reading flyer color 2

Flyer 2

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Toylit poem

Toylit’s poem

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Mick Farren

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Mick Farren


Tearist (w/ Douglas from BIRTH! and Bestial Mouths)

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Julia Holter


Sharon Cheslow and Julia Holter

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Echo Park cowboy

(pics by Pablo Capra)

Squishy’s First Beach Adventures!

Moments No0014

Serenity No0015

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Michael Jackson Held My Hand, Too

Scream 3

I should have come forward with this years ago…it’s been my little secret for too long but now I’m breaking my silence and going public with the fact that Michael Jackson held my hand, too…

The incident took place at Universal Studios during the filming of the music video, Scream, featuring Michael and his sister, Janet.  Not too long before this I had met Michael while working on the stage production and rehearsals for the Dangerous tour.

Both Mark Romanek, the director of Scream, and Tom Foden, the Production Designer, are uncompromising perfectionists. It’s been a real pleasure to work with both of them on numerous projects. In the film business, working with people who maintain a vision is significantly better than working for those who lack the big picture.  On this particular job I was working with the art department headed by Tom Foden.  Other members of the art department included Dana Garman, Richard Berg, Jamie Vickers, Paulie Pietsch, Michael Manson, Mark Brooks, to name a few.

The Scream video may be the most expensive music video ever made, I believe the total production/post production budget was somewhere near 8.3 million dollars. And I can tell you the art department budget took a good chunk of that, maybe half.  The sets took up three full sized stages at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, with over a dozen sets placed on these three stages.  Once shooting began, my role was the ‘on-set dresser’, basically the ‘art department representative’ who remains on set at all times as the ‘face’ of the art department.  By the very nature of the position, the on-set dresser has close interaction with the talent while on the set.

This was a crazy big job, no doubt about it.  Three stages, over a dozen sets, twenty shoot days.

On the first day of shooting we had a 7am call, except Michael was detained until mid-afternoon.  Then hair and make-up, get him to the set and it’s 4:30 pm before we roll.  It became clear that we would be shooting nights for the next twenty or so days.  It was also clear that Michael liked it this way…working at night, that is.

Finally, we get down to business.  Michael makes his entrance and is met by Mark who explains the shot. The first footage we shoot with Michael is of him dancing on one of the many white floors seen throughout the video. Michael finds his position, about six feet from camera, does a couple of takes, then mentions how the floor (white vinyl linoleum) was feeling slick.  I move in with my tools, a fine grade steel wool, rag and a spray bottle with the ‘special sauce’ and scruff up the floor a bit with the wool then step back. Mark comes out from behind the camera, looks at my handiwork then calls out for Tom before asking me if we lost the ‘gloss’. I say no, give it a quick spray with the special sauce and it dries to a sparkle.  When I get up from my kneeling position Michael is smiling at me and says, “I remember you from the tour rehearsal”. I say, “That’s right”, and he asks me how my kids are doing, I say, “great, amazing.”  And then everything is back to normal, Michal does his bit and we’re off to a good start.

As predicted, crew call switched from 7am to 4pm, and we worked throughout each night until 4-6am.

In the final hours of the last night of shooting, we had moved to the ‘zen’ set.  This was it, last day, last set, last series of shots.  The art department had prepped the set with final touches before Michael was brought in to take his place on the zen podium in the center of the set.  Michael surveyed the scene and commented on how beautiful the set looked.  He was very relaxed and it was obvious he enjoyed sitting in the middle of this temporary temple.

When Mark called out for a piece of the ceiling to be trimmed, I grabbed a 12-step (ladder), scrambled to the top and began sawing.  In an unfortunate moment the portable saw kicked back and amputated a third of my left ring finger. Without word, I reached in my back pocket for my rag, wrapped my finger with it and stepped down off the ladder and exited the set.  I passed Tom on the way out and showed him what happened.  Tom escorted me to the edge of the stage and I laid down on the concrete.  It wasn’t long before an entire film crew of towering bodies was in a half circle looking down at me.  Union guys chewing gum.  3am.  Right?

Suddenly the crowd parts and Michael appears and stands there for a moment, leaning over me, looking down.  He looks at my left hand held in the air then he looks at me.  Then just like that he is on his knees by my right side and he picks up my right hand and holds it in his.  He looks me straight in the eye and tells me how sorry he was, he kept repeating how sorry he was, and then he had tears in his eyes and he held my hand until the ambulance came and took me away.

That next week, recovering at home, the gifts began arriving from Michael and Janet, tasteful and cool things like great soaps, a bathrobe, incense, a card.  Anyway, that’s my story.  Michael Jackson held my hand, too.  Michael, if you read this, thanks for caring.

Photos by Richard Berg.

Scream 2

coLLapse, The Movie, featuring Venice Arts Club member Mike Ruppert.

coLLapse, The Movie, featuring our own Mike Ruppert, directed by Chris Smith, will have it’s premiere at The Toronto Film Festival, September 10-19, 2009.

c o L L a p s e

coLLapse was screened privately here at VAC a couple of evenings ago….it’s a shocker of a film.  If you can handle the truth, don’t miss it…


Newspaper clipping from 1977 by Derek90291.  This article appeared in the Miami Herald.

Devries Clipping

Leaving Neurotica.2

It’s bad in California’s Central Valley, no kidding.  It’s always been an isolated area because of the agricultural industry but now it’s isolated and broke, even worse.

I turned off at fabulous Westley about two years ago only to find an agriculturacl/anchor baby community and a run-down bar with two toothless female meth-addicts sitting outside.  All aboard the meth-train to hell, first stop your soul.  Next stop, who cares.

The nice thing is I’m not staying at that particular train stop.  My destination is more hospitable and more my type of culture.  Humboldt County, land of NorCal enchantment and a more friendly form of land use.  More on that later.  Neurotica is much harder to feed in the land of the quiet.  Got the picture?

BTP praised in “Foxy Digitalis” online magazine

From “An Interview with Penny-Ante Publisher Rebekah Why”

by Jon Lorenz

I read that you initially started Penny-Ante with a focus on poetry and you said at the time that you “saw it as something that was completely dead,” could you elaborate on that?

Poetry has never died and I find is hilarious that the first time I’m misquoted is by one of my own editors! (Laughs). I think when I said that I was referring to my own surroundings and friends, who don’t really find contemporary “big name” poetry as something they connect with… But with that said, there will always be poets, and people interested in poetry. Byron Coley’s been doing it with the Ecstatic Yod’s poetry journals, or BRASS TACKS PRESS OUT OF TOPANGA (!!!)… There are people carrying the torch from one generation to the next and with that, it’s not completely dead, and thank goodness….

Penny-Ante website

Foxy Digitalis website

Brass Tacks Press website