FOR OUR last night of class this evening, I’ve asked my L.A. Stories class to consider what they think about when they think about Los Angeles — in other words, does L.A. have a spirit? What is its sense of place? For me, a child of the city, and trading it with summers in a place that had a deep, rich history (New Orleans) L.A. felt particularly “young” and temporary. it’s what I think about when I see these buildings — “dingbats” — these transitional spots where young people or newcomers land as they set up their lives here.

The “terraces” or “gardens” or “arms” or “courts” or what have you, were always a puzzlement to me because often they didn’t have them — just a name — and it required a very vivid imagination to try to connect the fanciful title to the actuality.

We’ll see what the rest of them come up with.

“playing new orleans music is like an accent…you can tell if it isn’t right”

My Jon Cleary piece for the L.A. Times is up.

He has such a layered story, which the music so accurately reflects. So much to try to squeeze into limited inch-space. The piece, I decided, had to be as much about him as it was about place — the city that shaped him and changed his life.

In a certain respect, the Maple Leaf Bar is where it all happened:

“The blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes used to hang out … with his suit on and his big hat, tinkling away,” he recalls. “And James Booker, arguably one of the best piano players New Orleans ever produced, happened to be living upstairs. So I’d be painting, and this piano music would be wafting [through] …” he recalls. “That’s when I became a piano player.”

Getting ready for Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew at UCLA Live tonight.

Here’s a little preview: Cleary with the Absolute Monster Gentleman —

photo: copyright lynell george, 2012

New Orleans State of Mind

WELL, FESTIVAL season has officially begun. And many of my friends are packing up and heading to New Orleans next week. I won’t be able to this time around but we’ll be getting a big shot of New Orleans in Los Angeles on Saturday when Jon Cleary rolls through.

My profile of him runs Saturday in the Los Angeles Times. I’ll be posting a link a bit later. But here are a couple shots I took last Fall during my visit and interview. The venue is Chickie Wah Wah on Canal Street. A lovely room I wish I could put in my pocket and take home.

all photos copyright lynell george 2012