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Smell, downtown Los Angeles’s premiere all-ages venue. I will not detail what was beneath the cardboard. In truth, I did not peek. Japanese author Taro Gomi famously pointed out that everyone poops. I intuited that, beneath the cardboard and beside its homeless guardian, lay evidence of Mr. Gomi’s observation.
Despite the rat-meets-shit organic sculpture that greets visitors to the Smell, I was comforted to know that the City of Quartz has a secret punk heart. I’m not sure how the Smell persists at the intersection of Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and the Toy District. Downtown Los Angeles’s insistently postmodern glass architecture stifles most human endeavors. Indeed, playing at the Smell presents many logistical hurdles. “Why is the club locked if doors open in five minutes?” and “Is this really the bathroom?” are questions that demand answers. But know this—-even if you can’t find the back alley it calls home, the Smell thrives and continues to put on awesome/bizarre events.
I was fortunate enough last night to play with Kira Roessler and Mike Watt, punk legends who together form the dual-bass outfit Dos. I have seen many bands, but cannot imagine music more unusual that Dos’s. Roessler and Watt veer about the stage, dancing freakily together whilst performing bubbly compositions that haunt the lower frequencies. Sometimes Roessler sings. She also wears a Kobe Bryant jersey that has been fashioned into a dress (see above). This fashion-forward statement blew my mind before she had even plucked a note on her matching blue bass. Meanwhile, there was a “Roessler and Watt, respectively, were in the Black Flag and the Minutemen!” vibe that haunted the proceedings. Of course, not all comers were impressed.
“This sounds like two whales bumping pussies,” an irreverent friend of mine commented. I do not think he intended this irreverent comment to compliment Dos. However, the more I listened to Dos’s “whale pussy-bumping,” the more I enjoyed it. After all, whale pussy-bumping is a biological process to be celebrated rather than denigrated.