I seem to have fallen into the lo-fi scene here in LA.
I have three favorite places in town, only two of which are actual physical locations. First The Smell, a venue located in an alley in downtown, north of a tranny bar, south of an expensive club. The outside of the building lives up to its name, and is patrolled by a couple of homeless people who are convinced they are the Smell's guardians and security task force. They are surprisingly polite, though are known to carry firearms.
We arrive early one day when filming for some strange MTV show was going on. It is all very out of character and slightly comical. One of the PA's on the film crew walks outside to dump a huge load of pizza boxes in the dumpster, but does not have the key to the pad lock required to open said dumpster. Homeless guy to the rescue! He whips out his keys, unlocks the dumpster, opens it up and just as the PA is dumping the pizza boxes the guardian puts out his hand and under his breath: "Hey, uh...those all empty?" He then proceeded to sift through the pizza boxes one by one.
The shows consist of a kind of communal attitude that always borders, but never actually culminates in violence. There's a physicality there and an exertion but it always strictly and embracedly fraternal. I like it here. It is horrible and sweaty, and filled with a bunch of kids that just want to listen to music and expend energy.
The second is the Cinefamily. The silent movie theater. This is not the place that I have seen my most touching or influential movies. Nor is it the place that has jettisoned my love of movies into the clouds. It is actually just a nice, homely place that a few people treat like their living room, and curate as such. It's like going into someone else's house, where you have no control but a lot of comfort, and wandering around in their brain for a while. In this case, it is like wandering through many brains: the filmmakers, my own, and the programmers.
There's the same feeling of community here. Everyone is there for a good purpose, and familiar faces, eccentric and otherwise start popping up the more you frequent the place. LA, I have found, very much lacks a cohesion of any sort. Since the city itself is really just a grid of suburbs, something like a coherent sense of attachment to a large group of people is nearly impossible. You drive ten minutes in any direction and the community is totally different than that of where you started. So these little drops in the middle of the city are golden.
Every once in a while, the Smell bands will play somewhere weird. There was a show a while back at the LA Public Library, and more recently No Age played at the Getty. The crowd was having a lot of fun, the sun was setting, and one yellow-hatted man danced vigorously and happily much before the set had even started.
Here you can find a full write up.