Traveling Through an Analog World

By Lynell George

via The Frame/KPCC and LAist

LOS ANGELES-BASED musician Anthony Wilson‘s latest release, Songs and Photographs, reminds us what we’ve lost in our departure from the analog life — both in music and in snapshots, rich repositories of emotion and memory.

The guitarist, arranger, and composer is the son of the late great jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Gerald Wilson. While jazz is his homebase, Anthony often deftly finds his way into different settings, sitting in with a mix of artists — among them Paul McCartney, Aaron Neville, Kenny Burrell, and Willie Nelson. He’s also been a member of Diana Krall’s ensemble since 2001.

His latest release combines his own music and photography. This new work is an “album” in a broad sense: an unfolding collection of images, both audio and visual. It’s meant to be taken as a whole, intended for reflection.

To read more click over to LAist and you can hear the review along with sound samples here at KPCC/The Frame.

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State of Being: Envisioning California

 

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via Boom Magazine

by Lynell George

“I could remember everything about California, but I couldn’t feel it. I tried to get my mind to remember something I could feel about it, but it was no use. It was gone. All of it.”
—Richard Hallas from You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up1

Gold Underneath the Street 

For months now, I’ve been at the time-bending task of emptying out my family home, breaking down history as if it were a set.

It’s my childhood home, not the first, but the one we inhabited the longest. Moving through rooms, closets, and overstuffed drawers, I’ve unearthed all manner of lost treasures: pocket watches, maps, deeds to homes long razed. This house, I realize, became a nest—not just ours—but one made up of artifacts of generations of family members: Bibles and Sunday hats, old wallets still filled with gasoline “Charg-a-Plates” and oxidized pocket change, a cache of antique cameras still spooled with film, and a river of photographs documenting their journey west.

A few weeks back, making my way through the old kitchen, I put my hand in the dark recesses of a cabinet stacked with crystal water goblets, luncheon plates, and not one but two ornate turkey platters to find the most fragile porcelain teacup and saucer—once white with scalloped edges, a hand-painted small cluster of oranges at center. Beneath the fruit, in plainspoken yet fine-brushstrokes, unscroll the letters “C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A.” Whose tiny cup was this? My grandmother’s? My great aunt? My mother’s? Who purchased this souvenir? Who thought to save it? To protect it? I wondered. How had it survived so long, so dusty and delicate?

 

To read more at Boom, click here

Letting Go of Green Lawns …

All this past summer, I kept hearing Joni Mitchell’s voice in a loop way in the back of my brain,  murmuring about the “hissing of” summer lawns. That tell-tale sprinkler spray haunted me.  By the end of October, I’d swapped in “browning” for “hissing” as the lyric cycled through.  But my long morning walks told me something else about how important that green grass was to some.

Here’s my brief reflection — in words and images — that went up in November at Zócalo Public Square

by Lynell George | Zócalo Public Square

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“Here, it was two stories and a lawn, two stories and a lawn, two stories and a lawn”
– Carolyn See from The Handyman

Sometime during the last-blast furnace heat of September, as I made my turns on foot around my San Gabriel Valley neighborhood, I began to take careful note that the term “conservation” was widely open to interpretation.

Evidence was everywhere. Street to street, lot to lot. Each week, I’d push a little farther outside my core neighborhood, comparing and contrasting.

Many residents let their square of lawn “go”—in a come-what-may fashion that seems optimistically to believe that brown will one day be green again.

Others chose to take matters into their own hands. I watched early-adopters embark on elaborate, months-long transformations, removing turf, transporting earth, tarping lawns, designing intricate new ground cover—not wanting to gamble on the vagaries of Mother Nature. As weeks passed, I’ve been taken by the range of improvisation among these remade yards: blasts of color and texture, hay-yellow patches, haphazard rock gardens, dirt and dandelion weeds.

 

to read more click here

Improvisational L.A.

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UNEARTHING L.A.’S IMPROVISED PAST

In a City That Constantly Builds Over Itself, You Can Still Find the Last Century in Certain Light and Certain Pockets by Lynell George

BY LYNELL GEORGE

For some time now, I’ve been thinking and talking about Los Angeles in the past tense. Not in a nostalgic way—rather, my memory of place had become an overlay, filtering the way I see and move through the here-and-now city.

Vanished landmarks are still active points on my personal map of the city where I was born and raised—touchstones I remember from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. That old Westside bookstore with the sleeping cats and sagging shelves? It’s still there in my imagination, waiting for me to show up and find my place in the conversation. And those palm trees near the corner of Citrus and Wilshire, the ones I saw craning their long, slim necks toward the sunlight? I still see them out of the corner of my eye, as I drive by, on my way to my next superimposed somewhere.

Click here to read more via Zócalo Public Square

Shades of L.A. — Bringing L.A.’s Diversity into Focus

By Lynell George
via KCET | Artbound

Carolyn Kozo Cole and Kathy Kobayashi – Embark on Shades of L.A.

It had just been a handful of months since Carolyn Kozo Cole had taken over the mammoth job as curator of the Los Angeles Public Library’s then-2.2-million piece photo collection. The biggest challenge, though, wasn’t managing the breadth or depth of its existing holdings — a complex trove detailing L.A.’s speedy and massive growth — its shifting skyline, the iconic architecture, the development of its signature highways. The dilemma was, in fact, confronting the vast expanse of what wasn’t there — the lives and stories of “other L.A.s” that had tumbled off into the margins.

“It was early 1990. Someone had come in to ask about photos of Watts,” historian Kathy Kobayashi recalls on a recent afternoon as we wind our way back to L.A. Central Library’s History and Genealogy department’s work room that’s situated in the bowels of its downtown headquarters. “It was going to be a part of a 25th year commemoration of the neighborhood, not the 1965 uprisings themselves.” she explains, “I remember her pulling the folder marked ‘Watts,’ and all there was was a picture of the Pacific Railway Station. She snapped it shut. For Carolyn, it really was sort of a last straw moment.”

It hadn’t been the first time someone would come in seeking a glimpse at L.A.’s day-to-day ethnic past, and it wouldn’t be the last, Cole knew. There would be people poking around for the fine details of life: what houses and front-yard gardens looked like, the interiors of a corner store or restaurant . In this wildly diverse city, why wasn’t there photographic record of that growth as well? There was “official” history and then there was “authentic” history — the minutiae of accumulated routine and ritual that happened within the everyday moments and collectively add up into history.

READ the rest here at KCET|Artbound