Friday, July 04, 2008

TOUR: Southern California (Northbound Leg)

Nina took us to the train station after we got rid of the rental car, and hung out long enough to absorb the depot vibe before we said our goodbyes. I love the relaxed atmosphere of train travel. We settled into our sleeperette on the Southwest Chief and soon were off. In this first moment of the 108+ hours we would be spending on the train over the next few weeks, I did a little dance in the small space between our seats.

elray on the train

Our train pulled in an hour early the next morning at LA Union Station. It wasn't long before Vera Bruner-Sung, another comrade from the Ann Arbor Film Festival (from now on referred to as "The Ann Arbor School"), scooped us up. Vera is one thesis film away from her masters at Cal Arts, was just completing a review of James Benning's new book, doing lots of yoga, and glowing in the swoon of young love.

It was gray and rainy, and Vera took excellent care of us for the day, helping us to laundry, naps, a ride to the movies (Errol Morris' "Standard Operating Proceedure"), good dialogue, and more.


We made our way out to Venice beach by way of a ride to the Center for Land Use Interpretation (where we said hello to Matt Coolidge, albeit briefly as he was ensconced in tax forms), then bus, then foot. It was one of those gorgeous sunny and mild southern California days. We walked up the boardwalk to Dudley Street and found the 7Dudley Cinema in the middle of the first block in from the beach. Gerry Fialka, also of the Ann Arbor School, was arranging chairs and setting up the projector.

The space was cozy, and our audience an intimate one. Quintessential Venice Beach, there were at least two people present with bare feet.

Deep Venice - Gerry generously offered us the futon-couch at his & Suzy's cozy bungalow, a home-cooked gourmet breakfast, and a ride out to Silver Lake the next day. It was a real treat. Neighborhood locales are essential to life in LA, and Gerry prepared for what seemed to be a major excursion by gathering up a big stack of trash-picked LPs to haul inland to Amoeba Records.

This embroidery on felt is one of the many treasures discovered inside at Gerry & Suzy's place.

Gerry interviewing Jay

one of the many treasures discovered outside at Gerry & Suzy's place


The next thing I remember is going on a bike ride to downtown LA, then a rapid decline into illness just before and during a great meal prepared by my old friend Jenna. I spent the next several days in bed, making my way to and performing at whichever next gig.

After months in flat Texas, I'm excited about the verticality of the LA cityscape.

The Echo Park Film Center was hopping with the energy of numerous kids in tight quarters editing videos when we walked in. This wonderful little community film center, lovingly run by the beautiful couple Lisa and Paolo, is an oasis of real and effective hands-on grass-roots media making. Although I was fairly wiped out from the viral occupation, we truly enjoyed the audience and our show there. Much respect and love to those folks! And long-live the EPFC!

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