Thursday, February 24, 2011


When I first moved to LA from OC, I went to every cultural event I could find: museums, dance concerts, films and movies, poetry and prose readings, night clubs, you name it. 

You know what I found? Crap, that's what I found. Crap everywhere. Crap in music, in prose, in film.

My friend Lisa and I drove all over the West Side one Saturday night and stopped at eight or ten different places to hear music. Good God, the stuff was bad. Yargh!

We sat in the car outside one nightclub while the techno-industrial music pounded away, shaking the street. Dozens of people, mostly teenagers it looked like, waited outside. They looked at us like they were sorry, either about the music or about us, I couldn't be sure.

We went to a little folk music club on Pico and went inside. The music was weak and thin and not very musical. Yuck.

Another time, I went to hear a band at a little bar on Sepulveda. The place was so small, there was standing room for about 25 people, and the music was awful and so loud you couldn't hear the next person scream. I wanted to scream all the way home.

Some friends and I went to a prose reading by a tall blonde guy whose name I don't recall. He looked around at the audience of six or seven lost souls and complained that people don't support the arts in L.A. Then he read his work aloud, and it was the worst, most boring, most juvenile crap I've ever heard. Lame for a sixth grader. Jesus.

The worst event of all, however, was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a film by some young Asian-American "artist." I don't recall her name.

Honest to God, the "art film" was a series of home movies. Have you ever watched anyone else's home movies? Talk about boring. You haven't been bored till you've been trapped in someone's living room, trying to be polite and watching their dog trot and their kids play and their friends sing Happy Birthday and say Merry Christmas into the camera.

Lord, save me from this kind of boredom. Makes you want to scream and tear out your hair. You wonder nowadays why young people keep their earbuds in and listen to their music. But that was the "work of art" that night at the so-called museum. Yargh.

I'm sorry, but my definition of art does not include boring bullshit. Art should give you a heightened awareness, a sense of dynamic posibilities, a touch of the infinite; you should see the depth of the human spirit. It should set your soul on fire, not bore you to death.

William Faulkner said, “I found a way of writing where every word was as dangerous as a stick of dynamite.”

That's the spirit, Will. 

I don't drive my car across town and find parking, especially here in traffic-nightmare L.A., to be bored out of my skull.

Hell, I can do that at home. Of course, I don't. Too busy reading good books, listening to good music, looking at good art, and watching good movies.

Here is a short list:
Music: Fiona Apple, Leonard Cohen, Bo Diddley.
Art: Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Eleanor Antin.  
Movies: "The Godfather," "L.A. Confidential," "One-Eyed Jacks."
Novels: "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy, "As I Lay Dying" by Faulkner, and "Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad.
Short stories: Aimee Bender.
Poetry: Holly Prado.
Long-form TV: "The Wire."

I could go on and on. But I won't.

Howdya like them apples?

-- Roger

Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle


christinaadams said...

I can't abide Leonard Cohen. Partly for his personal history too.

Roger R. Angle said...

What is his personal history? I know he was a Buddhist monk near L.A.

Sharine said...

Roger, darling, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion when it comes to art or works purported to be art.

P.S. Fiona Apple has one talent, a sultry-bluesy voice. Oh, wait, two talents. The other being willing to be an industry pawn. Be honest. Her songs...? Blah. Show me the art.

Roger R. Angle said...

I do think our opinions on art are partly subjective and have to do with taste. One man's meat is another man's poisson, as we used to say in Europe. (Fish.) But I do like "Criminal," "Sleep To Dream," "Shadowboxer" and her rendition of "Why Try To Change Me Now?" which of course is not her own song. I like your songs, too, sweetheart.