Escape2NY, Graffiti6, The Vaccines, Filligar, Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and The Hamptons

I kicked off August with a festival – the inaugural Escape2NY three day music and arts fest took place on the Shinnecock Tribe’s Sovereign land near Southhampton on Long Island. Yes. I flew 3,000 miles for a festival. Was I out of my mind? Have I time and money in abundance? No. But I am a big fan of multi facteted festivals , and had met one of Escape’s producers Rocco Gardner earlier in the year and knew he was in cahoots with festival entrepreneur /bon vivant Fred Fellowes – famed for his Secret Garden Party and other fun filled events on the UK festival circuit. So I felt confident that the music , art and aesthetic would be right but would it attract the crowds to create the communal good vibes??

First of all – the location.  The main reason I went was that I had two festival buddies to go with both of whom had family in this part of the world – Lisa in Cape Cod and Adrien in Long Island.  I hadn’t been to Long Island (or LI as the locals call it) before but remembered a trip to Cape Cod with a mixture of nostalgia and bemusement. My host at the time told me she had been abducted by aliens for sexual experiments !! This caused me to feel a)  worried that I was staying with a  nutter and b) concerned that maybe she was the sane one and I would be the alien’s  next victim.

Fortunately Lisa has never mentioned extra terrestrial activity in all of the 15 years I have known her so I was happy to have her as my gracious Cape Cod guide. The beaches and ambiance of the Cape are very relaxing and the verdant scenery a tonic for this Anglo Irish lass.

Lisa drove us through the Cape to get the ferry to Long Island plus a further two small ferries to hop across Shelter Island and finally to our destination of Montauk,  Long Island where we met our third Festival buddy Adrien . Unfortunately she had recently broken her foot but was determined not to let her crutches  get in the way of having a good time and she and her family were wonderful hosts to Lisa and I.

We celebrated our arrival with champagne and a local fish-centric dinner , and I tried my first Mudslide – an alcoholic ice- creamy drink which I can thoroughly recommend. Hic!

We slept in Adrien’s cousin Tommy’s luxurious subterranea cinema/ guest quarters and awoke rather the worse for wear , making the trafficky drive from Montauk to Southampton seem endless.

Luckily there was no traffic to get to the festival and we were able to park right beside the site – which was a good thing given our hop along friend.

The first person I went up to ask where I could find Rocco was none other than Fred Fellowes and his wife, both relaxing in the wooded area of the festival. After a chat about the event, burning man (where they got married last year) etc , Lisa and I  toured the site – which didn’t take long as it wasn’t a huge area and there was hardly anyone there!  We walked through a non alcohol area which was where the Shinnecock Indians and other tribes folk were making food and selling their wares.

The crowd grew a bit as the day progressed but given Patti Smith was the headliner I was surprised there was not more people there. I think that part of the reason is that it’s a new event and the boutique festival as a ‘genre’ is still in its nascent phase in the US.  I also discovered split support from the locals – some snooty Hamptonites were downright racist about the event, being peeved that the Shinnecock’s (who don’t pay tax) were making money out of Escape2NY while the other hipper more liberal locals (some of whom were Woodstock veterans) were thrilled about the festival.

The pic in blue is of Lisa enjoying the quietude of the Braindrop scuplture…

The crowd was a mix of Brits, ludicrously attractive PYT’s (good genes these Hamptonites) and bemused middle aged locals who had been given free tickets by the organizers but were rather non plussed by the whole affair.

My highlights from the weekend were Graffiti 6 (very handsome lead singer!) ,

The Vaccines who played to a small crowd in the baking heat but were terrific…

Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were the perfect crowd pleasing headliner for Saturday night,

Filigar (lovely lads that I met in Austin) got the crowd dancing ,

a robotic Gameletron,

a large Toad cum mobile disco , a Panda Pit ( literally a pit full of cuddly panda toys) , the Rose petal pit, the relaxing Braindrop sculpture ,  cocktail bar made of washing machines, Guerilla Science teaching me about sound waves ,

The Hot Sardines cabaret at the after party, but most of all spending time with my pals Lisa and Adrien and enjoying the east coast landscape!

Unfortunately the event was  cancelled on Sunday due to the threat of bad weather and the Chief of the tribe not wanting the land ruined by lots of feet churning up the muddy ground of the reservation – I really hope that this and the less than capacity crowds  don’t deter the organizers from doing this again next year…

P.S Maybe there are aliens on the east coast  after all…

http://photos.escape2ny.com/view/?image_keywords=Highlights&page=4

The Psychedelic Furs were great! I’d forgotten how many great tunes they’d written and it was brilliant to see a veteran band in such jovial good form after Patti Smith’s acerbic punk spitting performance the night before – you can still be punk/ new wave and have fun Patti! Or maybe your idea of having fun is hurling scorn at the festival goers and producers?? Not very cool for a Buddist. Go ring your Tibetan bowl and chill out before you grace another stage with your venomous spit Ms Smith.

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Wow where did July go to?  on the eve of August 1st lets find out what Gemma has been up to  since July 4th w/end.

The wonderful a cappella group Sonos finished their 5 week residency at Hotel Café  showcasing some of their new original material from their forthcoming album – my personal fave is Goldmine.

I brought my friend Teddy (Tewodros Fekadu)  to Hotel Café  – he is originally from Ethiopia and has an amazing life story which you can read about in his book No One’s Son. He and I met through my sister Yvette in Australia which is where he now lives. Teddy was in the US filming and meeting with his US publisher who will publish his book in the US next April – congrats Teddy!

(film rights are available btw!)

http://www.noonesson.com/pages/buy_now.html

I had lots of guests in July – all around the same week!

Cathy Dunkley came over from London for her hols and to see her brother Matthew conduct the LA Phil for A.R Rahman at the Hollywood Bowl (more of that later) , Allen came up with his son for a meeting at USC and the aforementioned Teddy was on his final leg of his trip before returning to Australia.

One balmy Friday eve we went to the Barnsdall Friday night wine tasting – Dan Wilcox was DJing – he said he is pals with Silver Lake wine but it wasn’t until I emailed all the KCRW DJs about spinning at the event that he booked the gig – nice one!

Teddy has lots of friends driving limos in Vegas so he took the bus there – I dropped him off close to midnight at the Greyhound Bus station in Downtown LA – my oh my . Talk about night of the living dead!  There were drunks, addicts, homeless, army sergeants, families, students, brave tourists waiting for buses to various destinations around the US. I was glad I had bought my dog Max for some canine support!

I’m glad to report Teddy made it safely there and back and took us out to a nice restaurant in Little Ethiopia before we dropped him off at the airport.

The next night we went to see A Journey to India night at the Hollywood Bowl

as part of the KCRw World Fest. It was extremely well attended by the Indian community and there was a vibrant sense of chaos as we weaved our way into take our seats. The concert was good – it was great to see Cathy’s brother waving his baton over the LA Phil but A.R seemed kind of distracted –he walked on to the stage, read from a piece of paper as to what clip / music we were about to see / hear then walked off again , leaving Matthew to get the orchestra up and at it. He sang two numbers and they played some of Slumdog ad the audience were appreicatiive but where was the big Bollywood ending to the night? I think he should have cut the clip of the dodgy video but am sure that would have caused a furore. Shame because it should have been a really amazing show given the wonderful vibrancy of the music.

Later that week I went to Create Fixate in Downtown LA

http://www.createfixate.com/

to see / hear Love in the Circus. They were good although a little too laid back for me/ my mood;

I enjoyed some of the art  in particular the photography of Ali Matlin met artist / curator Mike Russek

mikerussek.com/

and had a chat with KCRW’s Jason Bentley and Raymond Roker of Urb magazine now consulting for Red Bull outside. JB wasn’t djing until 12.45 am and dispite him promising that was when the magic would happen I had to leave and get some zzzs.

Went to Australia Rocks The Pier  Andy Clockwise and Missy Higgins plus a new artist called Kim last name escapes me…

Then headed down to Baja to join Allen and hang out with Cathi Black and her pals who had rented a place in Las Gaviotas next door. We had breakfast with Eileen and Phil at their gorgeous

www.LaVilladelValle.com

and walked around the winery with its amazing boat like design and the gorgeous new restaurant which was fast approaching its completion . The cacti were in spectacular bloom – I have photos of these on my camera which I will download asap!

We drove back on Sunday and went to see Global Soul at the Hollywood Bowl – curated by  Ricky Minor who did a great job but took on too much – he had to introduce the acts, lead the band and play. My faves of the night were Mai Doi Todd, Janelle Monae, Sharon Jones and it was a great thrill to see my pal Rocky Dawuni on stage , dancing around and getting all of the bowl to its feet! Stevie was great but we didn’t get enough of him (and there is plenty of Stevie to go round  – he is sporting quite an impressive middle age spread these days)

Hot new singer Grace Potter (although I had never heard of her and Allen had to fill me in thanks on who she was!) strolled on stage wearing what looked to have once been a short curtain and then  sang so high I was expecting dogs to invade the stage! The guy behind me said “I thought she was sexy and then she strapped a guitar around her … whoa!’ Ok I get it she is blonde young leggy and can sing really well but what  the eff was she doing on the bill ? Music Director Ricky brought the show to an abupt end no doubt due to that penalty laden curfew but the audience felt short changed and they wanted more of Stevie so despite having led him off they brought him back on for one more song! The YOLA – Youth  Orchestra of LA – seemed a bit confused and the conductor and his aides started to encourage them to clap along but I have to say I couldn’t hear one note of their performance and think they should have done their thing early on in the night… Oh well its easy to be an armchair critic.

Last Thursday I went to witness Rt Honourable Bob Pierce and his wife Sharon get  an award for their excellent work with LA’s Best and Britweek from Tom LaBonge at City Hall –  it was chaos! Nobody seemed to know what was going on from the parking attendent to the dozens of police officers then we had to wait in line while one security person checked the bags of a man who seemed to have brought enough food to feed an army – why he needed that for a visit to city hall is beyond me – and he was allowed to keep it all and get in!! Thankfully I had met up with some fellow Britweekers so we endured the comedy of errors and over officious police officers together- luckily a lady from LA’s Best came out of the halls (we had been told it was over capacity) and knew Louise – one of our group – and not only were we allowed in but got front row seats – what a palava!

Tom LaBonge was on top form that man should have a show in Vegas. I first saw him when he came on the memorial walk for the silver lake walker – that was before we found out the walker  man had cooked himself in his own Jacuzzi for fear of his questionable drug distribution being brought to the attention of authorities.  I found out afterwards that part of the chaos was due to some NFL meeting the same day.

It was great to see Sharon and Bob get their proclamation and then we had a guided tour up to the top of the tower!

Later that evening I went to the Hammer Museum for Also I Like To Rock which was fun. This final weekend has been quite quiet for me – no Bowl and I was busy working as  I finished off my final Treatment interviews. I’m really happy with them and I do hope they are scheduled soon! It’s the end of another era for me at KCRW  but having produced The Treatment for the last 5 years it is time to move on . I remain close to the station so who knows when our paths will cross again.

Meanwhile August is shaping up to be a very busy month indeed! Im heading to the Hamptons for Escape2NY festival

www.escape2ny.com/

Back to LA then to baja for Vendimia then to NYC to meet Mike Figgis as part of the prep for his festival at the Royal Opera House in September http://www.roh.org.uk/whatson/production.aspx?pid=18104

I’ll report from the road as often as possible!

Hope you have a great August too J

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Aldous Huxley, Ethan Gold, Friends, Beach, Pool & ofcourse some Fireworks!…

July 4th w/end isn’t a big deal for me – I’m more an Easter/ May/ August and long Christmas holiday kind of gal – thanks to being brought up in the UK where we have got the long holiday w/end down to a fine art.  So as this year’s July 4th approached I hadn’t made many plans other than wanting to take at least one trip to the beach with Max and painting the back bedroom in preparation for the 4 house guests that would be descending on my house the week after.

Saturday Max and I headed up the 101 which was already sluggish at 10.30 am so I took Topanga Canyon to PCH and finally hit the sand @ noon.  I had driven all the way up to the beach opposite Neptune’s Net because they allow dogs on there as its just over the Ventura County line and there are no over zealous lifeguards bothering you in the dune buggies (innocent sunbathers have actually been killed by idiot beach cops literally driving over their bodies ! ) Alas things have changed and while dogs are still allowed they have to remain on leash which makes it kind of tortuous for both dog and owner – I had to tie Max to a  log so I could take a quick dip and then had to walk him about 6 times as he understandably didn’t want to stay still on the beach. So not very relaxing but it was nice to paddle in the ocean as I probably only visit the beach 3 or 4 times a year despite being so relatively close to it.

http://www.neptunesnet.com/

On my way back down PCH I called my dear friend Marq Roswell and his wife Karen to see if they were home – it was a long shot given it was the holiday w/end but worth a try as they live in Pacific Palisades so we hardly get to see one another – am very glad to say they were home so we had a lovely catch up in their garden while each of them took turns to blow up the new inflatable pool for their son Cal and their miniature poodle tried to hump Max.

Dinner on Saturday was hosted by Cooper Bates and his wife at their lovely home in West Adams area.  Cooper is the co founder of Hint Mints and a big fan of TED – so much so he began to host TED screenings at his home and then founded LAIdea Project to bring like minded people together to expand and enrich one another’s minds. I was invited as Carmen Rizzo’s guest a few years ago and volunteered last year.

http://vimeo.com/13407339

As I had delayed with my friends Karen and Marq I wasn’t able to make the Moroccan carrot salad so I brought some Bison Vodka and Valrona chocolates to the dinner. It was Coopers and his wife’s birthdays so it was a festive occasion as well as being a chance for people to chat about the LA Idea Project and participate in the evenings activities which comprised having people speak about something they held dear to their way of life a la ‘This I Believe’ , or  ‘The Moth’ –  the subject was to talk about  something that had dramatically influenced or changed your life.  I found myself feeling rather concerned that I couldn’t recall any such incident – and given the things that are going on in my work life right now it made me think it was time I created a pivotal moment for myself ! More about that another time….

I was amazed at how moving everybody’s pieces were and found it hard , as one of the judges, not to give most of them full marks.

Sunday I headed over to the park on Camrose and Highland to celebrate Sander Comb’s birthday –what a lovely pic of him and his dad J

On the way home I popped into the home of The Strangers in the Oaks as I had asked if I could take a dip in their lovely pool given it was so hot. Not only did I have a lovely swim but I had timed my visit perfectly to coincide with them grilling some  tasty Argentinian meat in the outside brick  oven, washed down with some delicious chilled Stella – merci beaucoup Peter, Savannah and Gonzalo !

I went to Home Depot for paint on the way home and got the prep done before getting ready for my next party – I know I started this blog off by saying I hadn’t much planned for the w/end but things came together at the last minute – seeing friends that I hadn’t expected would be home and receiving late invitations to fun events close to home minimizing driving on the holiday w/end J

I had been invited by my new friend Kamilla Blanche to an evening in honour of MOCA’s Jeffrey Deitch to be held at the former home of Aldous Huxley which is perched just under the Hollywood sign on Mulholland Highway . Kamillas friend Marcos Lutyens – an interdisciplinary artist who would be conducting a group hypnosis experiment in honour of the venue and its former owner and The Doors of Perception .

http://www.mlutyens.com/mlutyens/speed_dreaming.html

The location was wonderful and after the crowd had had some delicious food several people sat and were hypnotized by  Marcos who asked them to draw what they had seen – giving them a clay tablet and stick to draw with.  Jeffrey watched on from the side – shame as I would love to have seen what he would have drawn.

Marcos also put another guest into a cataleptic trance – he became so rigid he was able to lie flat with only his head an ankles supported by weighted down chairs.

Quite a different Sunday night from the historic location to the hypnotic performance!

I then sped downhill to the Hotel Café for a performance by Ethan Gold –

and bumped into friends Thomas Golobic and Whitney Alderson. It’s the second time I’ve seen Ethan perform at HC although this was a different band – his new album is really terrific (Songs from a Toxic Apartment) and make sure to check out his video for Poison here…

Ethan Gold – Poison from Ethan Gold on Vimeo.

[/vimeo]

Having observed a rather tragic pigeon drinking from the shallow well left by a car’s A/C

I headed back to Home Depot for some more supplies  – yay Monday July 4th will be painting day!

I did indeed paint all day Monday but when I found a former house guest had left some BBQ coals as well as a burger in the freezer I decided to make a BBQ for one – it was delish! Thanks to Sang at Father’s Office I use rocket to go with the burger – makes it taste so delicious! I took it outside to enjoy on my porch and as the sun had just set the fireworks had begun to take off all over the city – so I took Max and we walked up to Micheltorena (south of Sunset) and had a great view of the display from the Coliseum – as well as ones all over the LA basin – it was incredible to see each display reach its crescendo in red white and blue for miles and miles in every direction. A few had the similar style geometric circles  which were really cool – as well as a number o home parties with their fire crackers and whistling rockets.

One such group was on Micheltorena itself – the rowdy party had spilled onto the road to start igniting their illegal stash of fireworks on the road which was fun to watch – Max wasn’t in the slightest bit perturbed by the noise but if I could read his thoughts I think he would be saying ‘Why is that drunk guy holding on to a lit stick of exploding flames??’ Good point Max!

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Mr Brainwash at Dwell, Katsuya, The Yellow Magic Orchestra

Hello again , not sure if anybody is reading this which maybe just as well given some rather indiscreet comments I made about a former work colleague etc etc but hey ho – sue me!

After Love Crime we were treated ( thanks to IFC and Marina Bailey ) to a lovely dinner in honour of the film’s lead actress Ludivine at Katsuya – however I had 2 hours to kill inbetween so I sauntered over to the Dwell Magazine exhibition at the LA Convention Centre. Its the third year I have been and I am less enamored each time I go. There were fewer of the smaller designers or things that I made me go ” Wow that is really nifty I fancy having one of them!’. I was rather drawn to the pre fab home – a mere snip at $375,000 (inc. all the bells and whistles and pillowcases made out of hand woven sea weed!)

The designer is the guy to the far right – the one with the frayed shirt made of soda bottles and shoe out of old tires. I waited around to chat to him but he was busy discussing building materials. Shame as I was going to buy 3 of his creations!

More my price range were the designer chicken coops

They even had real chickens in them! Not sure if they would throw them in as part of the deal or not.

Then I came across these fine logs – all on sale for a bargain price of $3750 – $5000!

So needless to say I left Dwell empty handed – not before saying hello to Thierry Mr Brainwash who was buying some furniture for his new home. No sign of a movie camera in sight. Maybe he has got over that stage of his life…

Walking back to LA Live I noticed the laying of the official red carpet – they must go through miles of the stuff if they have to lay it every time – hope they recycle it into warm clothes for convicts in the gulag…

This was to be the carpet for the last night of celebs and paparazzi , as the LAFF drew to its final conclusion with ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’

http://www.dontbeafraidofthedark.com/

After Dwell, I walked over to Katsuya and was bombarded by the cacophony of horrible music being flung out of huge speakers near LA Live – then even bigger speakers were bellowing out some other horrid sounds in the main square area – I had to seek refuge in Starbucks as I was 20 mins early for dinner. I hate to sound a snob but much as I have enjoyed attending the LA film festival, I can’t help but think of how it would have been at Cannes I’d have been able to wander along Rue D’Antibes and go shopping , or headed towards the old port to the marche aux puces or the cheaper stores like Monoprix or had a drink near the croissette or just pulled up a deck chair and watched the topless sunbathers enjoy the sun and the med. Instead I’m hounded by a terrible din , not a good shop in sight and the only place I can go is Starbucks. Tant pis.

After a lovely meal http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2011/06/final_laff_nigh_1.php

I headed  back to Silver Lake for a quick change , dog walk/ feed and then Thea arrived to pick me up to go to see KCRW’s World Fest’s Big in Japan Night at The Hollywood Bowl – I was very excited to see Yellow Magic Orchestra as have been lucky enough to work with Ryuichi Sakamoto in the past and saw him a few months ago at KCRW too.

Here we are after the show – moi,Ryuichi and Thea (R really liked Thea’s hat which  a friend of her’s had designed).

Thanks to James and Jaimie letting us park at their place! What a great Sunday 🙂

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Love Crime & Ludivine Sagnier

Love Crime, Ludivine Sagnier, Dwell Design
Katsuya, Ryuichi Sakamoto and The Yellow Magic Orchestra at The Hollywood Bowl –   A very busy Sunday !

After imbibing on rocket fuel (espresso con leche from Café Tropical in Silver Lake) I went to see ‘Love Crime’ at LAFF – it was terrific –Kristin Scott Thomas plays an icy Machiavellian  business woman who takes the credit for the work of her younger  colleague – played perfectly by Ludivine Sagnier, – as well as emotionally manipulating her – until her protégée decides two can play at that game.

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At the Q& A after the film Ludivine talked about her sadness over the death of the director Alain Corneau who passed away just as the film was released last year in France,. She also described  how he was a sweet man when he wasn’t working,  but on set it was like being in the army – he was very precise , bordering on OCD – like her character Isabelle . Ludivine told actors in the audience that if they wanted notes on how to play the lead in a film to look to the director and often you will find traits of that person in them.

I asked her about the other film she is starring in at LAFF – The Devil’s Double – she said she had not been keen on the role offered – that of an Iraqi prostitute but that the director Lee Tamahori had flown to Paris  while she was shooting Love Crime to persuade her to be in his film. Luckily for him when he arrived on set Alain Corneau  turned out to be a big fan of his and recommended that they work together.

The film opens July 29th in NY and August 5th

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB_O_knyd_A

it also has a great score by Pharoah Sanders

http://pharoahsanders.net/

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LA Film Festival, Dance Camera West, The Flaming Lips , The Devils Double, Senna , The Guard

wish I could figure out how to turn this around!Well it has indeed been a while since I wrote my blog . Bit bloody pointless having a blog and not writing it I hear you scoff ! A lack of discipline is part of the problem – that and the fact that I’m busy going out and about doing fun things to write about in my blog! If only there was some kind of technology that could transcribe my witty thoughts and details of my global peregrinations and shameless hob knobbing, it would be so simple. I suspect such a gizmo is being developed as I type at MIT but for now I will try and do better and carve out some writing time for me on a more regular basis. Wow that kind of felt like a confession – takes me back to the days of kneeling in a glorified cupboard while a doddery old priest with a severe case of halitosis would ask me what naughty stuff I had been up to. I gave up going to confession after Father Kavanaugh started to look at me from behind the grill – its one thing to confess one’s sins in anonymity, quite another to be identified. So as my sexual urges began to awaken and my misdemeanors developed from swearing at my mum to wanting to commune with a nice patch of moss in the back garden, I decided I better stop going  for fear of being embarrassed or giving Father K a heart attack.

Since SXSW in March I have been to New York and London – both fantastic. But I’m going to write in reverse order so I’ll kick off with last night at The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF).

Miranda July – artist, writer, actress, director, great legs, lovely eyes, abundant curly mop – it could be easy to hate her but instead I revere her multiple talents. And only hate her a little bit. I’d been hearing about her movie ‘The Future’ since Sundance and finally got to see it last night at REDCAT. It’s a simple story that takes kooky turns as it unfolds and embraces you in rather like a beautiful warm blanket. I’d heard about the talking cat in it and having just had her husband Mike Mills on the radio show I produce, talking about his film ‘Beginners’ that featured a talking dog, I wondered which of them had hit upon the idea of a conversant beast first or was it coincidence or just the type of thing that happens when you are in tune with your mate.

I liked both of these films – each charming in their own way. ‘The Future’ comes out end of July and Beginners is currently in theatres – and by the way don’t be put off seeing Beginners if someone says its sad and about an old guy coming out of the closet in his 70’s, finding sex and love and then contracting cancer. If anything this is a film about embracing life and being honest with yourself and those around you and its never too late  – until of course you pop your clogs.

Thursday Summer Solstice Night – Stacy tempted me out to The Bootleg where Jason Eldredge was djing before Shana performed some of her new songs – she was in the band Bitter:Sweet and is now doing her own thing and doing it very well too!

I also bumped into Debi Mae West who I hadn’t seen since her excellent Family Affair atop the Standard Downtown .

Wednesday – LAFF  for The Guard  – produced by my friend Chris Clark and his wife Flora Fernandez Marengo – and starring Brendan Gleason , Mark Strong and Don Cheadle directed by John Michael McDonough. Chris and I had tried to meet up in Sundance but he was busy selling his movie so it was good to have a quick chat with him on Wednesday.

My dear friend Rachel O’Meara joined me and we had a good chuckle at this excellent dark comedy, brilliantly written and directed by John Michael and beautifully acted by the entire cast.

Monday – my first movie screening at LAFF – The Devil’s Double – my pal Rez had been talking about this since he saw it at Sundance (how many times can I drop that festival’s name? I think that is the last time…)

I met the director Lee Tamahori on Friday at the filmmaker’s reception.  I had forgotten that he directed the brutal but totally compelling film ‘Once Were Warriors’ – so brutal it could put you off visiting his home country of New Zealand.  He was very chatty and we talked about the soundtrack for his film – a young composer called Christian Hewson recorded the score at Air Studios in London and used a Soweto guitar – a recycled gallon drum with strings attached to an amp that sounds wonderfully dirty and distorted – the perfect choice for this film which is inspired by the story of Saddam Hussein’s pathogical son  – Uday Hussein – who hired a body double to do his bidding and deflect bullets . The lead roles of the double and the son are played by the magnificent and delish Dominic Cooper.

They were shot one after the other so Dominic had to change character then act against himself. Pretty amazing. French actress Ludovine Sagnier  played her  role really well too. The party afterwards was mind blowing – held on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton,  the guests included Bono, Sarah Palin and George Bush were there! Well, there doubles were J I thought I was tripping when I saw my own double only to find it was me reflected in a mirror!

Saturday June 18th I went to hear Mike Figgis present his dance film ‘The Co(te)lette Film as part of Dance Camera West’s 10th anniversary celebrations at the Hammer in Westwood.  http://vimeo.com/15798684

I’m not a big contemporary dance fan and had never heard of this dance festival but as a friend of Mike’s I was excited to see his film and hear him talk about it – it was the first time he had been back to LA in almost 6 years and he was clearly enjoying not having to deal with the normal crapola of presenting a studio movie.

‘The Co (te)lette Film is extraordinary. You must check out this link and then make sure you see the full length – it’s a mesmerizing portrayal of what it is to be a woman portrayed in the most physical, honest and astounding way I have ever seen. Its not performed very often as you can see the toil it takes on the dancers  – Mike shot it over 5 days and I think he has done an amazing job of capturing choreographer Ann Van den Broek’s  stunning work.

Wednesday  The Flaming Lips performed The Dark Side of the Moon at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Only in LA! What a kooky venue – perfect for this kooky band. Allen and I brought some food and arrived at sunset – the opening act was pretty horrendous – lots of distortion both of a guitar and vocal variety.  It was a prefect night as there was a lunar eclipse, which we were able to see until the clouds descended.

Check out the cool lunar images on this link – shots from all over the world

http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=23957&start=25

I can’t say I’m the biggest Lips fan but I like being entertained and I was certainly not disappointed – the performance was more of a mash up of my beloved The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon and they threw in some of their classic tunes too. The stage was the biggest I have ever seen at the cemetery and the light show was terrific. Wayne had come out earlier to warn people of the flash and strobes so any epileptic sufferers would know to look away – so when I was flashing away with my digital camera I wasn’t aware of what I was taking as there was lots of subliminal images being thrown up on the backdrop – much to my surprise and horror I discovered I had taken the picture of a huge vagina! And the band had entered the stage from a door in the backdrop – effectively looking like they were coming out of the ladies pudenda! Only then did it dawn on me the etymology of the band’s name!

My friend Marine bounded across our picnic blanket and having got her attention with a greeting ‘Marnie Fucking Castor!’ she and her friend joined us, ate all our food and then fucked off. Hey a friend with food is a friend indeed right?

A quick wrap up of the rest of June –

June 11th was the anniversary of my Dad’s death and my first wedding anniversary – so a day of mixed emotions as you can imagine. Ex husband #2 emailed me to remind me of the former fact  – as if I needed reminding! I’m glad I had just been to the UK as I visited the cemetery where both my parents are buried and cleaned up the grave, bought some new plants – a bougainvillea to represent California and Australia where my sister Yvette lives, a fuchsia as this was one of Dad’s faves , and a busy lizzy (Impatiens) as my mum kept a huge one alive in the kitchen and bits kept breaking off and she kept transplanting them – and washed the bird shit off the gravestone and tore some bark off the dying Oak tree to decorate the edges of the grave.  It was the Sunday of a holiday weekend in the UK and apart from seeing one car enter the cemetery grounds I was the only person there. It was both eerie and soothing to be there. That might sound weird to those of you who have yet to lose a close relative. I tried to find Grannies grave having found it last year but either the ivy has taken over her sad little stone or I didn’t go far enough.

June 7th I saw the excellent documentary Senna about the amazing Formula 1 raced river Ayrton Senna  – Kevin MacDonald who directed the brilliant ‘Life in A Day’ is one of the producers and its editor is Chris King who had the herculean task of putting the maze of tapes belonging to Mr Brainwash together for Banksy’s ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ documentary. Working Title’s Eric Fellner  is one of the main producers on the film – I’d bumped into him at SXSW – it was his first visit to Austin and he came for Senna’s US festival premiere

YouTube Preview Image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrbJPsPtTyU

I like F1 and remember Senna but can’t say this is normally a film I would single out to see but am really glad I did – it’s a great testament to the human spirit , and the willingness to risk everything – even your life – if that is what it takes to fulfill your dream … ‘walking away from the dark forces just doesn’t become an option’ ….

June 8th was a good knees up at the British Consulate – I bumped into a former work colleague who shall remain nameless because after an initial ‘How good to see you ! Its been so long ! etc etc’ he returned to whisper in my ear ‘You know I lusted after you don’t you??’ Ugh. How does one tactfully respond to such a statement? Truth of the matter all I could think about was his hairy back which his now ex wife had talked about at a dinner party – TMI!! – and how unattractive I had found him. But in the spirit of being in a social situation I laughed politely and said ‘Oh but you were married!’ not my best or wittiest riposte but under the circumstances it was was the best I could do – and far better than saying what was really on my mind! Unfortunately it didn’t deflect him for long because he returned, and said ‘Well you were married too at the time!’ . I didn’t know what to say at this point. Technically it was true but I had left my drug addled ex and was getting a divorce while he was still playing happy families with his wife. It reminded me of a director who shall also remain nameless who said a similar thing to me – something like ‘I’ve always wanted to jump your bones’. Again, I didn’t find him in the slightest bit attractive so what are you supposed to bloody well say to that? ‘Thanks!’ ?? ‘Me Too!” ‘God I thought you’d never ask – what a shame we’re standing in a car park in daylight!’

Any witty retorts would be most welcome !

That’s enough for now – if you have read this far – well done! and you will have noticed I haven’t proof read this very well or figured out how to turn photos around – well I will have to do that another day as I need to get ready for one more LAFF event tonight – The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman with music by Sparks  will tell you about that next time  –

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Kumare, Bellflower SXSW is over for another year :(

Well I realize its May 1st but tempus fugit ! So before summer begins I’m going to add some final musings about SXSW…

While I enjoyed the film festival I didn’t have as many WOW moments as I did last year (Marwencol. Thunder Soul and Tiny Furniture for starters!) but the following two films were really good – Bellflower comes out in a few months – not sure of release plans for Kumare…

Kumare – Vikram Ghandi, a filmmaker and US born Indian re invents himself as a Guru as an experiment to show others that the power to change is in all of us.


When I first  arrived at SXSW I walked into a Convention Centre brim full of interactive bods and filmmakers and in the middle of which was a single line of praying people , led through the masses by an Indian man swathed in red fabric. My initial instinct was to laugh but then I thought that disrespectful. In need not have worried. It turned out I had witnessed part of the promotion for Kumare a documentary directed by Vikram Ghandi. An Indian born in the US, he began to be disillusioned by fake gurus and spiritual leaders and the ease at which people would give up their time and money to follow these ‘chosen’ ones. So he  decided to make a film about what would happen if he pretended to be a guru. He grew his beard and hair, clothed himself in flowing orange robes, made up a name, some nifty yoga moves a couple of supporters who knew his ruse then they set off to Arizona to find some disciples for Kumare. They found a disparate group of people who fell for his racket hook line and sinker. At the end of the film he unveils himself to them and it was fascinating to see their reactions. Anyone who has questions about faith or an interest in spirituality will find this a fascinating study of what it is to question those that claim to have the answers to our happiness , and the importance of believing  in oneself . The film justly won the SXSW Audience award.

Bellflower – a cool indie movie directed by Evan Glodell takes place in LA. The charismatic cast are a bunch of hipster slackers and the cinematography evokes hot languid days in the city of angels. Thanks to the two lead guys (Woodrow  played by Evan, Aiden the other charming psycho by Tyler Dawson) passion for flame throwers and Mad Max and a healthy smattering of sex and nudity this film will definitely find an audience! This film also gets the prize for the most fun post screening activity – they brought the flame throwing fully Mad Maxified Medusa vehicle to the parking lot of the Alamo Draughthouse theatre and had it explode and smoke  a few times for the exiting audience – Talk about ending a show with a  bang!

I interviewed Tim League about his fantastic Alamo Draughthouse and Ritz cinemas and as soon as I can figure out how to upload you will be able to check out my interview right here!

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Donald Glover, The Foo Fighters, Fitz & the Tantrums, 96 Minutes, El Bulli & KCRW’s SXSW showcases

Tuesday I filmed a short interview with Elvis Mitchell and Donald Glover – he was in town as the first ever host of MTV’s The Woodies awards. Elvis and he chatted about comedy, rap, the decade of the black man and being in Austin for his first SXSW experience. I didn’t score a ticket to the event (wassup wid dat?) but here is some info about it – Kanye West was one of the winners who picked up a woodie..

Donald Glover and Elvis Mitchell arty angle 🙂

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1659943/donald-glover-woodies.jhtml

Night of the Long Lines…

My KCRW colleague Betsy Moyer and I decided to go to the YouTube party – the final bash for interactive folk and opening do for the music festival. So the line was LONG!

And they insisted on letting VIPs in first so after 45 minsof feeling like second class citizens, Betsy bailed but I stubborn as ever decided to stay in line – what did I get for that? A fully loaded usb port of the bands on that night

(Beardy Man, Das Racist to name two) and some really unattractive YouTube tube socks which I passed on.

Beardyman

Food was pretty meager so I had a quick Lone Star and left for Stubbs.

Had I known The Foo Fighters were the surprise guest for the opening of the film festival event I would have got in line earlier! As it was I stood in line for 45 mins while listening to the Foos ricochet off the walls of the surrounding buildings – note to non badge holders or people who don’t want to stand in line – try to get onto the roof of the car parking structure opposite for a great view!

http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/826437/foo-fighters-rock-sxsw-with-a-secret-sho

My friend David Gale (MTV Interactive), his cousin Eric Weiner (check out his music blog www.TheWildHoneyPie.com) and Carlo Cavagna of UK Trade & Investment/ British Embassy, joined me when I was almost at the front of the line as the Foos finished.

We were there to see the wonderful Fitz and the Tantrums.

Fitz & The Tantrums Live at Stubbs

Alas the Foos took over an hour to de rig and took everything leaving no backline for Fitz so they went on 90 mins late!! Why they didn’t schedule Fitz to open for the Foos is beyond me.

Then I raced down ‘Babylon Alley’ aka Sixth Street to The Ghost Room on 4th for the end of Frog Licensing showcase produced by my friend and Austin local Tom Vale. Wish had made it here earlier! Oh well.

Its now 1 am and I was in the mood for some hot chocolate and luckily I’m right by Halcyon which serves ‘Gourmet’ chocolate! Yay! So I go in and order a Mexican one – then my new pal artist Gary Baseman joins me with some of his pals and we all enjoy some late night snacks and beverages before being kicked out (in a nice friendly Austin way!)

Wednesday – I head over the tape an interview with ‘Fly Away’ director Janet Grillo (which I will post asap – having some tech issues with my new iphone J)

www.flyawaymovie.com/

and we then go to see a screening of ’96 Minutes’ , the lead of which Evan Ross just won Best Emerging Talent for at the SXSW awards the night before.

96 Minutes star Brittany Snow

www.96minutesthemovie.com/

And the lead actress Brittany Snow is excellent too and a perfect soundtrack – score by Kurt Farquar.

I really enjoy the film and the director, Aimee Lagos, talked about how the film was based on some real events. She worked with after school programs in the tough neighborhoods in the Atlanta area and her college friends had some bad experiences that were often committed by teens from the areas that she was working in. The film is similar to Crash in that it has several story lines that interweave , and we see the cause and effect bad decisions can have on ones life, and the importance for compassion and the fight to forgive when an atrocity has been committed.

From there I hopped into the SXSW shuttle and headed to the CNN Grill for some free lunch! And much to my delight Brett Dennen showed up for a live performance – result!

Brett Dennen

Then I walked across the street to the Convention Centre to see James Vincent McMorrow perform as part of KCRW’s afternoon showcase. His voice is sublime and he played a wonderful set . I went and said hello to him and his manager  afterwards and they remembered that I had emailed them about 3 years ago when I first got my hands on some of his tracks. They thanks me but I thanked them!

James Vincent McMorrow

After going to check the venue for todays Allie Moss and Sonos performances I went to see the documentary ‘El Bulli: Cooking in Progress’ which was a fascinating look at how the best restaurant in the world was run and the food created. So wish I had had a chance to sample it myself before the chef decided to call it quits. The film was the first sale at SXSW …

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/risky-business/first-sxsw-sale-cooking-documentary-167325

Then back to my casita in Travis Heights to get the Allie Moss and Sonos postcards and head back into town to the KCRW showcase – I arrive in time for Dale Earnhardt Jr – the Phoenix was full when I arrived but was crammed by the time Chapel Club and Naked and The Famous came on for their sets. www.myspace.com/chapelclub

www.thenakedandfamous.com/

Now its St Patricks Day so I better don some green in honour of my Irish roots (and passport) and head in to meet Allie and the Sonos crew.

P.S sorry for sideways pics – still getting to know wordpress 🙂

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SXSW 2011  Edgar Wright. Simon Pegg, Joe Cornish,  Catherine Hardwicke, Morgan Spurlock, Bill Plympton, ….  Diplo KILLS It at Vimeo party!!

Simon Pegg & Nick Frost

Its 3am on March 14th and I’m typing this from my comfy casita in Travis Heights already exhausted despite being in Austin for @35 hours!

Last night I headed to Franks for the pre Attack the Block party and bumped into Working Title’s Eric Fellner who had just arrived in town for his first SXSW; then Simon Shaun of the Dead Pegg and his cohort Nick Frost arrived with  Edgar Wright – Simon and Nick were in town for ‘Paul’ www.whatispaul.com  (the director of which Gregg Mottola will be on KCRW’s The Treatment soon! )

www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt

and Nick and Edgar were there for Attack the Block directed by their pal & collaborator Joe Cornish – his debut feature. Being a fan of Spaced , Shaun and Hot fuzz and most recently Paul I was rather thrilled to  meet Simon and Nick – they told me that the PR junket for Paul had involved taking some journalists to Area 51 – strangely enough this involved a lot of alcohol being consumed which in turn aggravated the local emergency services who decided to corral the jounos by driving doughnuts around them in their fire truck. Stange but true.

Nick then introduced me to director Ben Wheatley – I had seen his excellent ‘Down Terrace’ feature film last year – an epic Greek tragedy set in a semi in suburban area of the south of England. He is at SXSW for his film The Kill List.

movies.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/movies/15down.html

Then my Treatment cohort Elvis Mitchell walked in and told me his SXSW interview earlier that day with Hangover director Todd Philips had gone very well and they talked about making a sequel his hugely successful film.  I left the party to get in line for the screening of Attack the Block – there is a lot of  buzz for this film especially as this would be the first public screening EVER! So despite my spiffy Platinum badge I would have to queue up for almost an hour – and then found the only seats available were right in the front row which was a worry given I knew the film would feature aliens!  Luckily it was the Ritz so I was able to order a beer and some food and that always makes things better.

Ritz on 6th St taken from an angle 🙂

I really enjoyed the film – it had that delightful mix of  an homage to films such as Critters and Gremlins – and the young teens in it reminded me in a weird way of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five transposed to a crime ridden council estate (project) and the cutesy kids are now marauding thugs in hoodies  on bikes , preying on pedestrians and generally getting up to no good on the streets of South London. But it’s a film with heart and the hoodie kids are ultimately a good crew led by Moses. It is his thoughtless actions that  unwittingly unleashes a hoard of aliens to attack their grotty block . Sounds crazy? It is,  but its fun and entertainingly crazy. As one of the kids says ‘there’s too much madness going on to put in a text!’ .

The Ritz audience loved it and the director Joe Cornish got up at the end and said how pleased he was that its first public showing had gone so well. He asked whether we thought it would have problems with the censors – there’s a healthy amount of swearing throughout the film –the audience assured him ‘no’ but given the amount of f-bombs etc I doubt the young teens will be allowed to see this in theatres which is a shame as the film is great and the message at its core – that we are responsible for our actions – is one the kids of today should be reminded of.

As we hang out with filmmakers downstairs,  the producers from Optimum and UK’s Film 4  anxiously awaited  the first tweets and social networking messages about the film – they anxiety changed to smiles all round as the responses were excellent! Check out the trailer here – US release date TBD (May in UK)

www.slashfilm.com/tag/attack-the-block/

After a group photo we head off out onto the Babylon that is Sixth street at what is now 3 am on a Saturday night/ Sunday morning thanks to the clocks springing forward. I had to walk about a half hour and battle other tired people for cabs before getting home at 4.30am!

Sunday –popped into the Kodak brunch so some tasty (free!) brekkie and on to a screening of the film ‘Fly Away’ at  the State Theatre on Congress http://www.flyawaymovie.com/. It’s a heartwarming film by Janet Grillo with excellent performances from its two lead females Beth Broderick as as the mother of Amanda played by Ashley Rickards who plays her autistic daughter. The soundtrack was by the wonderful Luke Rothschild and String Theory. http://www.stringtheoryproductions.com

'Fly Away' Director Janet Grillo, Exec Producer Catherine Hardwice and moi

After the film I met  Janet, Beth,  and her executive  producer /mentor and friend director Catherine Hardwicke (who was doing panels & workshops  for SXSW and here to talk about Red Riding Hood) – both Janet & Catherine are passionate KCRW fans – and Catherine recalled how much she enjoyed being Guest DJ http://www.kcrw.com/music/kcrw-guest-dj-project/kcrw_listing?b_start:int=90&-C=

After some local grog (no time for lunch!) went down the street to stand in line for ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ By Morgan Super Size Spurlock.SXSW The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

http://www.sonyclassics.com/pomwonderfulpresentsthegreatestmovieeversold/

I bumped into Jeff ‘Marwencol’ Malmberg and his wife and producer Chris on the way – we met at SXSW last year where I saw their terrific documentary and he has been a guest on The Treatment. http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt/tt101110jeff_malmberg_marwen

The line went right around the block but luckily I found my friend Seth Kaplan (of Evolution Music ) at the very back of the queue so we chatted about films and music which made the wait in line go relatively fast.

The film is BRILLIANT!!  The ebulient Morgan (who I had met at the Banksy party last month) introduced the film and at the end walked on stage in his bespoke suit covered in all the sponsors of the film. It a hilarious a look at product placement in film – a necessary evil  to getting your film financed – and how companies react to it/ Morgan and his pursuit to make his film .

I love films that make me laugh and make me think about the bigger picture – in every sense of the expression.

From there we (now joined by John Anderson of Ole Music and Carter from Warners) to the delicious BMI dinner hosted by Doreen Ringer Ross .

From Bill's Oscar nominated short

I met the brilliant animator Bill Plympton  www.plymptoons.com/ there –he had been a guest on the Treatment but as it was taped in NYC I had not met him so we had a lovely chat and talked about his book that comes out next month. It seemed oddly appropriate to have met Bill –  whose Oscar  shortlisted film  is ‘The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger’ – having just seen Morgan Spurlock – the man who ate McDonalds burgers for a month!

www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt/tt101215bill_plympton_idiots

Super Size Me (japan poster)

I left the dinner early so I could make the performance of ‘Nightmare and the Cat’ with Gary Baseman at the HP Mobile Park. Having known Sam and Django as kids it did make me feel a tad old to see them looking so grown up on stage! www.myspace.com/nightmareandthecat

Nikghtmare Cat by Baseman

They were brilliant – consummate performers from their playing to their stage presence. Gary went from painting his canvas ( a nightmarish flying cat)  to painting Django for the encore. If you are in LA they have a show at Bardot March 20th .

Nightmare and the Cat & Gary Baseman

Nightmare & The Cat’s sponsors,  HP, were printing out copies of Gary’s painting for them to sign, but  I had to leave as I realized  it was 9.15 and I was late for my next screening!

I hopped into a pedi-cab to get to the Ritz for Miranda July’s fim ‘The Future’  – which was appropriate as her film features a cat!

http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/01/29/miranda-july-the-future-interview/

(note – pedi cabs are expensive! $10 per person – but hey you would feel bad not paying given how much they sweat to get you where you need to go!)

Alas the film was already full by the time I arrived so I called my friend Rez to see what he was up to and after some replenishing ice cream we popped into the Google party at Maggie Mae’s which was so cacophonous we had to leave then we stood in line (again!) for the PBS party  www.pbs.org/pov/ but it was worth the wait – the performance by Trombone Shorty was terrific – he plays the horn like a rock star and his voice reminded me of Maxwell. I enjoyed it so much I bought his CD J www.tromboneshorty.com/

As midnight approached Rez suggested we go to the Vimeo party which was out at a power station on west 3rd. We stood in –  you guessed it  – another line! But it moved fast and we were able to take in the amazing venue – 4 huge cooling towers lit in blue light. Check out the venue here

http://www.flickr.com/photos/triciawang/5526003117/

Inside the cavernous electric power station Diplo was on the decks and Eclectic Method provided the visuals. The music was AMAZING – he is a true mixologist from dancehall to dubstep to rap to soul to indie rock. I liked it so much I bought the Electric Station t-shirt J

Vimeo wall outside Electric Power Station

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SXSW 2011, Nightmare and Cat, Gary Baseman & Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish’s ‘Attack The Block’

Well here I am back again in sunny Austin for SXSW. Having got the usual 2 hours sleep  , I headed to LAX at breakneck speed (in my Fit don’t you know!) and was given a big ‘LATE’ label for my luggage (oh the shame!) and made it on to the lfight in Class 3 (aka steerage) so got one of the last seats on the plane – only to hear an english accent behind me talking music stuff and then I realized that I knew the owner of the voice! It was Sam Stewart  and his bro Django – I used to work for their Dad Dave ‘Eurythmics’ Stewart at The church in  Crouch End (actually I was in the crypt part).  Of all the seats in all of the plane!

I introduced myself and got chatting to their friend the artist Gary Basement who turns out has been a guest on The Treatment years ago with ‘Teachers Pet’. He and Sam & Django’s band – Nightmare and Cat – will be performing as part of the interactive SXSW tomorrow night and thanks to my chance seating on the plane, my name has been added to  ‘the list’ and I’m going to be there 🙂

I took the amazingly cheap $1!! bus from the airport to downtown Austin – the bus driver and a fellow passenger were SO helpful in telling me how to get to the Convention Centre! Oh I love Austin! I went into the CC only to be met by hoards of people – Interactive and Film are in full throttle it would seem and people were falling over my rolling bag as I jostled to get to claim my badges. As I walked through the masses I noticed a single file parade of praying people walking towards me with red scarves on their heads. What was that about?

But het its Austin and thats why they call it weird.I checked in to find I had been upgraded to Platinum pass – woo hoo! and was given three bags to correspond with each of the festivals I am about to attend. Now heavily laden down I cab to the lovely SoCo area – am staying with friends of friends off Academy – just past the lovely St Cecilia hotel (one day Gem one day!)

its all about the boots

Am now showered and ready for Saturday night in Austin!

I was to have met Tim ‘The Alamo’ League but he has a screening (natch) so am heading to the pre Attack the Block party  – the film is directed by Joe Cornish and produced by Edgar Wright and about which there is much buzz –  at  Frank – I’m told its standing room only for the screening at midnight and given my paucity of sleep and ageing years I may not make  it – I will let you know. Please excuse typos am using a very slow internet connection and this has taken ages!

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