This year’s Coachella lineup was underwhelming from the start, so much so that I didn’t plan on going until a pass fell in my lap about a week before the festival. It wasn’t necessarily the bands in the lineup that I thought was weak, it was the lack of originality and dynamics that I’ve come to expect from a Coachella. No Rolling Stones or David Bowie. No Replacments. Hardly any hip-hop, punk or imaginative electronic music. Too many wimpy “punch-me-in-the-face” bands like Phoenix, The xx, Postal Service… Basically, i feared Coachella had lost its edge. As much as the environment and experience was always more than fulfilling to me, I wasn’t ready to shell out $500 in support of a lineup that seemed staged for taking a big nap on the Polo Grounds.
Coachella 2013 Panorama from Ferris Wheel: Click to embiggen
In the end I had a blast — Coachella is one of those great experiences that triggers dopamine bursts just at the thought. The first heat of late spring under the desert sun, 100,000 people all out for good times, good music and big smiles. 6 stages (with this year’s introduction of the Yuma Tent) and all kinds of inebriating distractions.
The lights went out last time Calexico visited Los Angeles. Fans at the Fonda Theatre waited for hours in darkness, but a Hollywood Boulevard power outage literally stole the show. “My parents were there, my sister and the whole label and we’re all sitting in the dark,” said Joey Burns, singer and guitarist for the band. “I loved every moment and we probably could’ve played acoustically, but there were safety concerns.”
Calexico’s seventh long-player, Algiers, had recently dropped, marking the band’s first opportunity to play live for its new label, Anti. But after a short acoustic song, Burns bid the remaining crowd good night with a promise to return in January. And tonight, Calexico makes good on its promise at the El Rey.
I got a text from Brent yesterday: “Are you in a Cisco commercial?!” And I knew my fraction-of-a-second of fame had gone live, on nationwide basic cable (namely, CNN). It all came about the Sunday after I moved from Echo Park to Venice (in October). I was walking around Abbot Kinney Festival when a young woman with a Flip camera stopped me. It was election season and I was initially skeptical as dozens of people were roaming about with clipboards and Roseanne/Cindy Sheehan 2012 stickers. Then she explained that she was sent out to cast a specific role for a commercial and the director really liked working with regular, man-on-the-street types found at farmers markets and street festivals. I spoke to her casually on camera about how I had just moved to Venice from Echo Park that week and was looking forward to a nice change of pace on the west side.
Late last year I found a two solid weeks to travel in a country that I’ve never visited and I’m very happy to have chosen Belize. I LOVE traveling and I feel unfulfilled if I go a certain period of time without extensive travel, preferably internationally. This was my first such solo adventure since 2007-2008 when I used up my vacation days (thanks Warner/Chappell) to go to Argentina and Chile. I wanted to explore, and get in some adventure along with some quality relaxation and recharging after an exciting but jam-packed quarter running social for The X Factor (among other things).
Belize was an amazing country to visit and I had an incredible experience first near near San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and then in the jungle and at Tikal in Guatemala before rounding out my visit on the paradisical Placencia peninsula.
Read about my travels in the following photo essay (Click on a photo to view captions and scroll through as slideshow). Special thanks to Milio and Kirsten at Ak’Bol on Ambergris Caye and to Paradise Resort in Placencia.