I wanted to write something about what happened last week at LA Weekly.
Much of the details can be found in this article by Jack Denton for Pacific Standard. The short version of the story is that a gaggle of libertarians bought the company and fired most everyone last Wednesday. The new EIC Brian Calle doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing or what he wants to do and neither do the owners as the site has yet to be updated with any new content other than a post introducing the new investors and since-deleted tweet offering unpaid work.
That’s not to mention the jaw-dropping ignorant statements that Calle and his investors have vomited out in recent days.
I contributed to the LAW for seven years with these past three years the best out of those seven thanks to everyone I worked with especially former music editor Andy Hermann who also wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation as part of my application to San Diego State University.
The past three years were definitely something special. The four years before then felt like dangerous, shifting waters that threatened to sink LA Weekly with a revolving door of cuts and editorial staff. Then, somehow, the ship and waters stabilized and all went well again.
Until November 29th.
Some of my peers from LAW are fighting Calle and his ilk to prevent them from being able to do anything under LAW’s name. I’m not sure what will come of it but the new owners are off to a terrible start and many important names, retailers, and organizations in the city have joined a boycott against them.
I do believe it’s possible to save LA Weekly. I hope we can soon.
The Los Angeles Theatre on Broadway first opened its doors in 1931 with the world premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. No one who attended that opening night could ever in their wildest dreams have imagined that the 2,000-person capacity venue would, decades later, host an event like Red Bull Music Academy Festival’s Todo Es Metal showcase this past Saturday, Oct. 21.
The event united rock bands from Mexico with their long-haired peers of the American diaspora for a night of thrash, grind, death, black and heavy metal. Southern Californian acts Mictlantecuhtli, XLesionsX, Scrapmetal, Blue Hummingbird on the Left, Volahn, Letum Ascensus, Sadistic Intent, and Terrorizer L.A. shared the bill with Thanatology, Disgorge and Transmetal from Mexico.
There will be a point this coming Thursday night when Helado Negro, the musical alter ego of Roberto Carlos Lange, will kick up a wave of high-pitched sounds off his synthesizer and lead the crowd at the Regent Theater into a chorus about being “young, Latin and proud.” The song, which turns 2 years old this summer, continues to serve as an anthem for a generation of Latinos growing up in Trump’s America, a development Lange never expected.
“Absolutely, it caught me by surprise,” the multitalented Lange admits over the phone. “The song was made for me and was more of an intimate song. We had a few shows and, kind of the way the world works in trying to get people to know that you have a new show coming up, we thought it would be a good idea to release a new song, and I thought, ‘Oh, this would be a great song for summertime.’”
Lange released “Young, Latin and Proud” just as candidate Trump was calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. “A lot of people have commented to me that they found the song to be somewhat of a reinforcement of an anti-Trump idea,” he says. But he insists the song wasn’t intended as a response to Trump: “It was just music that I was making that I’ve always made since day one, since the first record. A lot of my music has been covering the same themes. People pick up on it later in time.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and there’s nothing about Viva! Pomona that needs to be fixed. Founder Rene Contreras celebrated the sixth birthday of his little festival that could in Pomona this past weekend with yet another stellar lineup of local and international independent artists that struck a perfect balance between Latino artists and everyone else.
The annual two-day festival brought a range of artists from different genres, with acoustic weirdos such as Juan Wauters and Tall Juan sharing floor space with their musical opposites like punk group The Coathangers and fuzzy surf-rock duo Surf Curse. It’s a formula that has worked since the festival’s inception, a depiction of the diverse tastes of Contreras and others like him.
The two worlds that the festival brings together have always coexisted well, although the disparity between the two seemed stronger this year than it has at past Viva! Pomonas. It was far from a Bloods and Crips or greasers and socials situation, but the line between the Latino segment of the festival and the rest stood out more than it had in other years.
One reason for the disparity was the star power behind some of the new names on the bill — specifically, Omar Banos, whose musical alter ego Cuco is more insanely popular than anyone who isn’t a teenage Latino from L.A. obsessed with emo and romantic ballads realizes.
A.Chal (aka Alejandro Salazar) is a tall dude who cuts an imposing figure, filling every room he steps into with silent intensity. His voice carries as much weight as the booming bass he produces for his music, but he’s soft-spoken during our interview, rarely speaking above a murmur. There’s an interesting duality to his persona as a singer, rapper, producer and solo artist, which continues to evolve on his latest release, On Gaz.
On Gaz, A.Chal’s third release and first mixtape, arrived on June 2, four years after his debut EP Ballroom Riots and just one year after his first full-length album, Welcome to Gazi. On the latter release, the Peruvian-American artist was the self-aware party boy who sought self-reflection and self-critique after debaucherous nights out on the town. On this new release, which features appearances by French Montana and A$AP Nast, he confronts his feelings of guilt after his insecurities convinced him to destroy numerous personal relationships in the months leading up to the release of Welcome to Gazi.
A.Chal sharpened his skills as a songwriter while living in New York, but friends urged him to head west to Los Angeles. Since moving here, he’s been better able to find inspiration and outlet for his creativity, resulting in an album, a mixtape and songwriting credits for the likes of Rita Ora, Max Martin and Jennifer Lopez.