Though I have been blogging for the L.A. Weekly for a few years now, I was very excited that the 2012 People Issue would mark my first feature story to be put in print. But with my luck, I was in Europe for the entire time it was on stands! Oh well. I am honored that the editors chose one my pitches out of apparently the hundreds of pages of suggestions they received and allowed me to profile Andreas, a Long Beach-via-Vienna visionary I have been intrigued by since I first heard of the Long Beach Opera in 2010.

Andreas Mitisek: Where Opera Dares to Go

AndreasMitisek_9877.jpgAndreas Mitisek is sitting in the Long Beach Opera’s modest church-rental office near the southern terminus of the 710 freeway, days after wrapping the first performances of the current season.

“It all started with the opera in a parking garage,” says Mitisek, the company’s Austrian-born artistic and general director, in his thick, Schwarzenegger-esque accent. That’s when Long Beach’s oldest professional opera company abandoned a traditional performance space for a 2007 production of Grigori Frid’s one-woman opera The Diary of Anne Frank.

The phrase “opera in a parking garage” casually rolls off his tongue, as if it were perfectly natural for the art form to be presented in a ghostly concrete structure meant to store cars.

It’s the same nonchalance with which he says “opera in a pool,” “opera in an abandoned furniture store” and “spaces of unexplored theatricality.” But opera, of course, is not usually performed in these unconventional locales. It has lived for centuries in temples like La Scala and the Met.

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Check out the entire People 2012 issue here.

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My good buddy Rob let me interview him for the May 17th issue of OC Weekly, so we went at got some beers at Monkish Brewing in Torrance and shot the shit for a few hours. This is a waaay edited down version of the original interview–that’s what happens when you only have space for 450 words.

Repeater (Mostly) Reunite to Work on New Material

[Checking In On . . .] Rob Wallace and Steve Krolikowski aim to take their sound in yet another new direction

Say it again

When Repeater went into the studio to record with “The Godfather of Nü-Metal” Ross Robinson in 2009, fans of both the famous Korn producer and the unsigned post-punk-ish band from Long Beach were stoked. But by the time We Walk From Safety was released last summer, the band were near dissolution. After performing a seemingly routine show at Detroit Bar in September, Repeater went on an unannounced hiatus, regrouping only weeks ago (minus a few members). We sat down with keyboardist-turned-bassist Rob Wallace to talk about writing pop songs, “right” vs. “wrong” music, and singer Steve Krolikowski‘s genius.

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top 5 mexican beers

May 4, 2012

Trying to write about the difference between all of the shitty light Mexican lagers for a Cinco de Mayo-inspired list (for the L.A. Weekly food blog Squid Ink) was a challenge. I even stopped by Beachwood to ask the bartenders’ opinions on the subject, but alas, they were un-opinionated on such lowbrow beverages. I eventually remembered how good some of the Mexican amber and dark lagers are and the rankings began to take shape. Apparently, this list is pretty spot-on, approved by those in the comment section as well as my geeky beer friends in the Hop Heads, so I’m pretty proud of it. 🙂

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Flickr/kevharb
Drinko de Mayo

Top 5 Mexican Beers: What to Drink Before Tequila

Let’s face it, Mexico isn’t exactly a major player in the current craft beer revolution. But that doesn’t mean that its long tradition of easy-drinking, European-style lagers is something to be overlooked. Sure, the cervezamarket is just as consolidated and macro-dominated as the United States’ was in the 1970s, but even among the brews that make it up here, there are a few that stand out as more deserving than the rest.

So when faced with the Oktoberfest-of-Mexican-beer that is Cinco (or should we say Drinko?) de Mayo, arm yourself with our top 5 beers we think you should get down with before the tequila drops you to the floor. Turn the page.

READ THE LIST AT LAWEEKLY.COM

Love the headline OC Weekly gave this installment of my bi-weekly “Checking In On…” column. Immediately called Brian to make sure he wasn’t offended by it, but then I remembered he really and truly does have a bedroom full of obscure action figures and his cat’s name tattooed on his arm, so he was definitely okay. Also, he’s in a fucking ska band in 2012, so he clearly has a sense of humor.

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Suburban Legends’ Brian Klemm Has the Bedroom of a 40-Year-Old Virgin

Longtime Orange County ska outfit and Disneyland’s favorite choreographed band-with-horns Suburban Legends have been looking for locals to open for them at their album-release show tomorrow night at Chain Reaction. Day Job, the latest from these fun-loving guys, is nearly four years coming, and its entirely self-recorded, straight OC-ska sound is breathing new life into a scene that, by all accounts, peaked 15 years ago.

We sat down with Suburban Legends guitarist Brian Klemm to ask for his and his fun-loving bandmates’ thoughts on building their own recording studio, experimenting with pop music and comic-book geekery.

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So all of the papers I’ve been writing about Sublime have for the first time paid off in a published piece for the OC Weekly music blog in which I took a moped tour of all of the Long Beach locations mentioned in the police chatter in the song “April 29, 1992” and wrote a piece about the meaning of it all. I think it turned out really well and it was also probably one of the weirdest ideas I’ve ever had.

A previously unpublished photo of my moped in front of the former site of On’s Junior Market (now A-Cherry liquor) on Anaheim St. in Long Beach.

We Check Up on the Long Beach Addresses in Sublime’s Riot Song “April 29, 1992 (Miami)”

Yesterday marked 20 years since the acquittal of four LAPD officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King incited several days of violence and looting in South Central Los Angeles. But it’s also been 20 years since a similarly motivated uprising erupted in nearby Long Beach, resulting in numerous arrests and causing extensive damage throughout the central and northern parts of town. This rarely gets mentioned in reports of the infamous L.A. Riots.

Chuck D of Public Enemy once famously said that rap music is the black CNN, but in the case of this civil unrest in oft-forgotten Long Beach, it was local ska/punk/reggae/hip-hop/everything band Sublime’s song “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” that became the city’s own news network.

Released on its 1996 multi-platinum self-titled album, the song reports on the burning buildings and felony committers of the band’s hometown in the days following the not-guilty verdict. Using actual Long Beach Police Department radio transmissions and verses that describe personal involvement in the pillaging, it gives a localized account of the Long Beach riots (complete with street addresses of the destruction).

To some, it might seem inflammatory that pseudo-reggae white boys would write a song about participating in racially motivated violence and looting (our friends at the SF Weekly recently wrote that they were “piggybacking on a riot”). But the rioting Sublime writes about is not the iconic Normandie and Florence chaos that continues to define the days following the end of the Rodney King trial. The song is about how the riots affected them and others in Long Beach, a city nearby yet worlds apart from neighboring South Central (and its pent-up racial tension). If you’ve ever been to the mostly working-class port city of nearly 500,000 people — which remains the most statistically diverse city in the country — you know what we mean.

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My first big feature for Beer Advocate Magazine is out in April’s issue. I had a lot of fun researching it and am stoked that they gave me the opportunity to do something like this as excuse to get to know more about things I’m actually interested in! Bought a fresh bottle of Anchor’s 18th Century Old Protrero Rye at High Times. Next stop: homemade manhattans.

GO TO PDF HERE OR CLICK ABOVE

A little backtracking on some of my published work that I forgot to post on here. This was a Checking In On… Q&A with the Growlers that went to print right before they played Coachella. I still think that Brooks (the singer) looks like Chalino Sanchez–or at least some handsome, Italian pop star–especially (especialmente?) when he swaggers all over the stage in his polyester pants washing over your astonishment at his throwback stage attitude with a silky, DGAF stare.

The Growlers: Bigger, Better, Faster, More!

[Checking In On . . .] There’s life after recording with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys

Lineup

Last time we talked to Growlers singer Brooks Neilson (“Further? Fursure!” by Chris Ziegler, Dec. 23, 2011), his bandmates were gashing girls’ heads on a small winter tour and waiting for the album they recorded in Nashville with Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) to find a release date.

The band are still waiting for that date, but that doesn’t mean they’re just hanging out. By the time you read this, they will have played their first set at Coachella and, hopefully, completed recording 20 more new songs on their and their friends’ collections of all-analog devices. It’s all about 2-inch tape, yo.
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beer and booze

April 18, 2012

After doing all the research for my latest Beer Advocate story, I have become really fascinated by not only craft distilleries, but also those who revel in the commonalities between beer and spirits. Decided to do a little write up on the five coolest intersections I have come across in my drinking travels. Wonder if I should start pitching to Imbibe…?

Originally published at LA Weekly’s food blog Squid Ink

Top 5 Spirits for Beer Geeks: Belgian-Style Rum, Hoparitas and Moonshine IPA

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Valery Rizzo of eatingbrooklyn.com
The relationship between beer and spirits is closer than you think — and not just for the growing beer cocktail trend or the “pint and a shot” special at your local dive.

Mainly, the two crafts thrive on the same fermentation science, with spirits beginning life as a fermented-sugar liquid similar to beer before being run through a still, which pumps up the alcohol by volume (ABV). Whiskey is the nearest to beer in this way, since both of their base sugars are barley (as opposed to rum’s molasses and tequila’s agave sugar base). Basically, what gets put into the still to create whiskey is a beer brewed without hops, or what is called a “wash.”

For centuries, the arts of brewing and distilling have remained on separate yet parallel paths, but one look at the American Distilling Institute’s 2012 Artisan Spirits Award winnersand it’s clear that the two industries have begun to find common ground (hopped whiskey, anyone?). In the last few years, American craft distilling has grown in a similar way to craft beer and, with more than 200 small-batch distilleries experimenting with new methods and recipes, the two industries are cross-pollinating more than ever.

So what happens when a well-known craft brewery gives leftover beer to a distillery? Or when a rum is spiced like a beer? Read on for our top 5 spirits that both bartenders and beer geeks can appreciate.

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LA gets a woody

April 9, 2012

Published at LA weekly’s food blog Squid Ink

Deschutes Brewery’s L.A. Base Camp Week: Chainbreaker White IPA, The Abyss + “Beer-lesque”

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Meet Woody. He’s a giant towable beer barrel-keg that doubles as an operable bar and comes complete with disco ball, sound system and his own Twitter account. Though the party-on-wheels might be a cutesy promo gimmick for Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery(or the grown-up version of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile), we’ll cut the Northwest craft-beer stalwarts some slack — the company’s stellar pales, porters and stouts speak for themselves.

Still, for most of the year this mobile marketing tool travels to major cities in the 18 states where Deschutes is distributed, doles out some of the brewery’s best beers and plays centerpiece for week-long calendars of events as part of its “Base Camp” promotional campaign.

Woody landed in town over the weekend (appearing ar the Paramount lot for L.A. Beerfest) in anticipation of Los Angeles’ second-ever Base Camp Week, which officially begins today. This means that through Saturday, April 14, Woody — along with brewer Robin Johnson and other brand ambassadors — will be popping up at various L.A. venues for Deschutes-related events like a beer-and-cheese pairing at A.O.C. and a beer-themed burlesque show at Skinny’s Lounge.

Kegs of of rare Deschutes brews such as Chainbreaker White IPA, 2011’s The Abyss and the never-before-poured-in-L.A. Black Butte XXII are also on hand (as well as homebrew supplies and the requisite branded pint glasses), so check out the many public Base Camp events going on this week and support the latest offerings from one of America’s largest craft breweries.

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touchdown, turn around

April 5, 2012

Originally published in the April 5 issue of OC Weekly.

Hellogoodbye Says Hello, Long Beach, Goodbye, Huntington!

[Checking In On . . .] Singer Forrest Kline talks about moving (slightly) north and the band’s upcoming album

For the past 11 years, Forrest Kline has been writing, singing and playing guitar for Hellogoodbye, the Warped Tour-friendly saccharine emo-pop band who once called Huntington Beach home. But after nearly a decade of keyboard-and-vocoder pogo jams about high-school crushes and innocent, booze-free parties, Kline didn’t call it quits, as did many of his contemporaries. Instead, he moved to Long Beach, got married and released 2010’s Would It Kill You?—a record of straightforward, grown-up indie pop.

After recovering from his recent trek to Austin, Texas, for this year’s South By Southwest music festival, Kline talked to us about his 100-year-old house; Hellogoodbye’s next record, due out this year; and all the Long Beach weirdos who make you feel sane.

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