Thursday, January 31, 2013

still-sound 144. Giraffe

I brought my friend Yvettra to 1642 last night.  On my first visit to this bar last week, I made the lifestyle decision to pop in weekly. Forever or until further notice.  The Hi Fi Honeydrops play every Wednesday.  I thought that Yvettra would like their 20s Duke Ellington sound.

We remarked that the bar smelled nice.  Couldn't put our finger on it.  "It smells nice and old" was my exact assessment.  Jude joined us moments later and also made reference to the nice fragrance of the room.  He suggested that it resembled 888 by comme des garcons.  I liked where he was going with that.  

Jude brought two blue bottles of sparkling water to the table.  Yvettra and I drank wine.  The band started to play and I was taken by the bass player's voice.  She was away last week and a guy with a red shirt and red cheeks took her place.  Her voice was earthy, plain and pretty.  She ornamented her notes with tight vibrato flourishes.  Yvettra and I decided that she should wear Bois de Paradis by Parfums delRae.  The guitar player in front, who seems to be the band leader of sorts, should wear Pour un Homme de Caron.

As Yvettra and I left the speakeasy and entered the cold Los Angeles air I couldn't help but notice a large sign of a giraffe.  Part of its long neck appears to be in an x-ray.  You won't be able to tell from this picture, but its eye is dazzlingly blue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

still-sound 143. Deerhunter

This is the inner sleeve of Deerhunter's album Halcyon Digest.  When I had my hair trimmed at Franky's Barbershop in Silverlake, Franky reckoned I would like Deerhunter, based on my admitted preference for dreamy, ethereal music.*  He also mentioned that the lead singer of the band was "really tall".  Franky and I seemed to share an unspoken understanding that this detail was somehow considerably important.

Franky was right.  I love Deerhunter.  I want to say that they inhabit a territory between My Bloody Valentine and The Pixies.  But that wouldn't be exactly right.  

Halcyon Digest comes in white vinyl.  This was a pleasant surprise.  Look how sharp it looks on my turntable.

I found some older music from Deerhunter; namely Cryptograms and Fluorescent Grey.  Both are equally dreamy as Halcyon Digest but considerably more psychedelic and wall-of-soundy.

*I learned that the barber's name is not, in fact, Franky.  Unfortunately I don't know his name. Franky was his dog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

still-sound 142. 1642

It was my intention yesterday to drink away some of my sadness.  I called on my friend Katie to help me achieve my goal.  We met at a bar called 1642.  I had been meaning to go for several months.  Ever since Ramesh told me about it.

I sprayed on a fragrance called Sweet Dreams 2003 by A Lab on Fire.  It smells like honeysuckle.  Simple, natural, fragile.

The bar doesn't look like a bar from the outside.  I felt awkward opening the front door because it looked like it would lead to a stranger's grotty apartment.  I did open the door though and I found a charming speakeasy inside.  I ordered myself a glass of Gewurtztraminer.   Katie arrived shortly and had a glass of Zinfandel.  We talked and drank until two musicians started to play at the back of the bar - one fellow on the piano and one fellow with a banjo on his knee.  They played ragtime.  They sang along to one of the songs.  Their voices were full.  As I chatted with Katie I thought that the entire bar was singing along.  

The guy with the banjo sort of looks like me in this picture.  But I assure you, it was not me. I'd like to be the sort of guy who could play the banjo though.  Bluegrass plucked fluently from my fingers. 

I had another glass of Gewurtztraminer.  So did Katie.  My heavy heart felt one notch lighter.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

still-sound 141. Hermie

I passed this sign the other day on my walk with Rosie near Elysian Park.  I wonder who Hermie is.  Maybe Hermie is an event.  "Are you going to the Hermie this afternoon?"

I like how the sign is written in classical school handwriting.  I like the balloons.  Even if they are bit saggy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

still-sound 140. Bamboo broom

I was in Little Tokyo yesterday and bought a broom in the Japanese grocery store.  I had seen a more impressive one at Anzen Hardware earlier with a bamboo handle and an untrimmed bundle of broom straw wound tightly around the base.  I liked it but thought it was too expensive. It would have been justified if I had an immaculate garden and used it to gently brush away the odd fallen leaf.  

The broom pictured here is also made of bamboo (sheathed in plastic).  It's very light, cost very little and is very effective.  I'm going to keep it outside on the balcony and sweep regularly.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

still-sound 139. House of hardwood

A few days after Christmas I visited the House of Hardwood in West LA.  I've never seen such an impressive collection of wood before.  I was particularly taken by a big slab of walnut.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

still-sound 138. Sandalwood

This morning the wind carried the scent of sandalwood to my nose.  I lit a stick of one of my favorite Japanese incenses, Fu-in sandalwood by Minorien.  The smell is sweet and creamy.

I have a heightened interest in sandalwood having just finished an extraordinary book called Sandalwood and Carrion by James McHugh.  It examines the role of smell in the culture and religions of medieval India as detailed in Sanskrit texts.  The book is meticulously researched and elegantly written.

Sandalwood was and is revered in India for its cooling effect.  This characteristic is illustrated in a Buddhist story I particularly liked.  It is a type of story intended to describe the nature of karma and involves a man named Purna, the son of a slave girl.  The great merits in his former lives afforded him the ability and chance to successfully meet the obstacles he encountered in his present life.  When he was (quite unjustly) thrown out of his house, he came across a man carrying ox-head sandalwood, shivering from the cooling effects of the wood.  Purna buys the wood from the shivering man and was later able to sell it for twice the price to the king of the town who was overtaken by fever.  A paste made from the sandalwood was applied to the king which removed the heat and restored his health.

Purna later became a monk and constructed a sandalwood pavilion for the Buddha.  When the Buddha visited the pavilion it became too crowded, prohibiting some from hearing his sermon.  The Buddha solves this by transforming it into a transparent rock crystal palace.

I liked the way I was thinking about smell as I finished the book.  I started thinking of scents as characters in stories, rich with personality and affecting the body not only via the nose but also by touch, temperature,  emotion and carried by the wind.

Friday, January 4, 2013

still-sound 137. Lightfoot

From this picture wouldn't you think that this Lightfoot's Athletic Soap fell from a tree, like a pinecone, landing gently on a bed of pine needles?  It didn't.  I staged this photograph.  I can't help it.  My father was a commercial photographer and would spend afternoons finding attractive angles of pumps and hospital equipment for trade catalogs.  I believe it's in my blood to find glamor shots of objects.

I found this soap at a shop on La Brea called General Quarters.  It's styled in such a way to make you feel like you're stepping into an army supply shop circa World War I.  Utilitarian, manly and functional in an olde time way.  There's a barber's chair in the back and a bottle of small-batch Bourbon.

The soap is apparently made from pine.  It doesn't smell like pine.  Smells more like Irish Spring - very bracing and fresh.  I like it and look forward to unwrapping it from its plastic coating to release the scent in my bathroom. 

There were glass jars containing buttons placed on several wooden tables throughout the shop.  I took one badge that lauded the virtues of the barber.  I pinned it on my shirt.

I carried the soap in a paper bag back to the car that was parked at a pet store.  I went there earlier to buy shampoo for Rosie.  Medicated oatmeal soap for dogs.  She has dandruff.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

still-sound 136. New year

Last night I celebrated New Year at a club in West Hollywood.  The last time I saw the new year in, at a club, was in 1998.  It was in London at a party called Duckie.  The djs were called The Readers' Wives and played Trash by Suede as the first song of 1999.  Since then, all of my December 31sts have been marked by a low-key affair or sleep.  Until last night.

The club was called Rage and the party was called GAMeboi.  It's geared to Asian guys.  Rob was planning on going with some friends.  It's not normally what I'd consider 'my scene', but hell - new year, new Steve...  I sprayed myself liberally with a perfume that smells like shampoo in preparation.

The atmosphere was fun like a school disco.  I was familiar with most of the playlist since I listen to KIIS FM in the car when KCRW and KJAZ get boring.  The dj played a countdown of the best songs of 2012, with number one revealed shortly before midnight.  It was Gangnam Style by Psy.  The overwhelmingly Asian crowd particularly appreciated the selection.  I unexpectedly filled with a Han Guk pride myself.  It's not the massive strides in economic progress seen in Korea in the last few generations or the high levels of education achieved by its's the guy dancing like a horse, rapping badly to a pop song that has me chuffed.  At midnight, confetti floated down from the ceiling.

Glow sticks seemed to multiply within the crowd creating a lightshow on the dancefloor.  Everyone knew to hold it up and shake it in time to the rhythm.  I was never offered one although I secretly wanted one. When I found Rob again in the crowd, he was holding a glowstick up in the air.

By the end of the night, four strangers had spoken to me.  They were all white girls (the minority in the crowd).  They all said the same thing, that they liked my moustache.  Two had asked me if it was real.  (I get this a lot).  I was the only person in all of Rage with a moustache.

At two am, Rob and I left the club.  Rob took his glowstick with him.  We walked into IHOP and I ordered scrambled eggs with sausage.  I was given eggs with cheddar and a side of bacon but pretended that it was the correct order to avoid having to wait any longer for the food.  I ate it very quickly, with two pancakes soaked in IHOP syrup.