Saturday, October 15, 2011

"J. Edgar" re-screening scheduled for Saturday night after Friday premiere blacked out

"J. Edgar" re-screens tonight at 8PM at the Sunset Center for existing Festival Badge and TicketHolders, and Essential Credential holders.
Friday night's sneak peak, which was attended by director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, was cut short due to a power outage.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Dustin Lance Black on his Monterey County ties @ Carmel Art & Film Festival

Matthew Modine, Dustin Lance Black, Clint & Dina Eastwood @ Carmel Art & Film Festival

My quick chat with Dustin Lance Black Friday night @ CAFF:

What are your ties to the area:
I moved here to go to high school. My family was at Fort Ord when Fort Ord used to be here. So I went to North Salinas High School. 
My only connection to Carmel was I used to lose in the swim meets to Carmel High School.
I graduated from North Salinas High School. I went all four years. I graduated in 1992.

What's it like to preview your film close to home?
This is a special treat. I didn’t know we’d have the opportunity to show the film in my hometown. I didn’t have that opportunity with “Milk” until far later. It will be good to see it with the home team backing me up. And I think this will be a great audience for it.

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Melissa Leo surprise guest @ Carmel Art & Film Festival?

One of the rumored guests for Saturday's "Women In Film" panel is recent Academy Award winner Melissa Leo.

“We were hoping Melissa was going to be able to join us. But unfortuantely, we're not sure whether or not her production schedule is going to allow her to get away in time for lunch on Saturday,” said an anonymous festival organizer. “Theres' a good possibility that she will (be in attendance).”

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Carmel Art & Film Celebrity Spotting and Afterparties

Roaming around town during the Carmel Art & Film Festival can lead to some celebrity watching and hot after party spots.

Festival communications director Shannon Damnavits said the first deal is you can get to the exclusive after parties if you buy the VIP package.

That includes post-screening gala for Clint Eastwood's "J.Edgar" and the Saturday night affair at the Music Cafe.

Damnavits said The Music Cafe could also be a celebrity hangout spot.

“A lot of the actors and film makers have already said that thye're likely to go ther eand check out the music,” she said.

Unofficially, beyond that, Damnavits suggested people might scope out local hotel bars and lounges to catch a glimpse of celebrities unwinding. The lounge at the Cypress Inn was one Damnavits' suggestion.

“Most of the hotels throughout Carmel have some pretty high profile guests staying there,” she said. “So any of the hotel bars are going to be popular locations, if you know what I mean. Truthfully, that's often the case.”

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Parking @ The Carmel Art & Film Festival

Parking is always a challenge for patrons of the Carmel Art & Film Festival, said Shannon Damnavits, communications director.
“There is the Sunset Center parking lot, which is really helpful because we do have several events happening there,” Damnavits said. “That's one of our venues with films happening throughout the day.”
Beyond that, Damnavits suggested patrons park downstairs in Carmel Plaza is a good place to stop and have access.
Both the Sunset Center and Carmel Plaza are paid parking venues.
“The Youth Center is also sort of off the beaten path. It's little bit off the main drag, which means there is going to be some parking in that general area too,” she said.
“The great thing is all the venues, The Music Cafe, the after parties, it's all happening within, essentially about a 10 by 10 block area,” said Damnavits. “So you should be able to get around by foot.”

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Q&A with Steve Skrovam & Fred Stoller of "Fred & Vinnie"

Fred Stoller and Steve Skrovam's film "Fred & Vinnie" is a surprisingly sweet examination of two lonely friends who are perfect for one another, although not necessarily living under the same roof.
Directed by Skrovam, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stoller, it tells the real-life story of Stoller's relationship with Vinnie D'Angelo, an agoraphobic introvert suffering from depression and anxiety issues.
When D'Angelo leaves his native Philadelphia to visit Fred, a planned short-stay turns into a long-term residency akin to Bartleby the Scrivener.
"Fred & Vinnie" has the distinction of opening the 2011 Carmel Art & Film Festival. It screens at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Sunset Center auditorium.
Stoller and Skrovam talked with "The Beat" about the film and the real Vinnie D'Angelo. Below is a brief excerpt.

Q: I just finished watching the movie. It's so sweet. It never striks a false chord, and at the very end, it kind of hit me. 
Fred: You're the first one who said they saw it, and actually saw the ending. No, that was a joke. I've talked to friends, and they said, "Oh, I loved it. I saw it." And then they say, "Does Vinnie play himself in it?" Steve: That's nice of you to say Marc. Thank You.
Q: Who was Vinnie D'Angelo? 
F: What do you mean who was?
Q: Was he a friend of yours? I see at the very end, it says "For Vinnie D'Angelo." 
F: I'm curious because a lot of people get confused. Were you confused if it was a true story?
Q: No, that was going to be one of my other questions — was this based on some of your guys experiences? 
F: Yeah, a lot of people get confused.
Steve: Fred, just don't tell him what a lot of people do. Tell him what the answer is.
F: Yeah, do you get form the thing that it's based on a real friendship?
Q: Yeah. 
S: Alright, I'm gonna take this one. Yes, it is a true story. It's pretty much almost a documentary in its faithfulness to the actual relationship between Fred and Vinnie. And I think Fred, maybe, a lot of them are almost verbatim conversations he had and scenes he had with Vinnie. There are very few made up scenes. There are a few, obviously for comic effect and other dramatic purposes.
But yeah, Vinnie was this guy in Philadelphia that actually Fred and I both knew. Obviously, Fred knew him better than I did. But they had this phone relationship, and Vinnie got kicked out of his apartment and came to stay with Fred, only for a few days, and then go off and live with other people, with the ambition of becoming an extra. But what unfolded in the movie is kind of what really happened.
F: The reason I'm wondering if you're confused is because I 'm so close to the story. It's interesting when I hear other people interpret it, like, what they thought or anything. So, you watched it and then you got confused because you saw there was a real Vinnie D'angelo at the end?
Q: Yeah, because I think at the beginning of the movie, it says something to the effect of "Based on a true story, more or less."
Q: So I'm going into the movie like it's typical Hollywood fare. Maybe it's a story that you guys embellished for the screen? 
F: I think we should re-edit and say it's based on a true story. I'm kidding. I'm so close to it, but yeah, pretty much, that's the story.
S: And that's what we wanted to kind of stick to. Fred originally was thinking of something more high concept.
F: At first I was going to tell the story, but he didn't die. And then years later, he died, and I go "Well, real life writes the arch." And the funny thing is, people go "Is this made up?" And if we were making something up, yeah, it would be more whacky. It's such a low concept. It's not like there was an ending where we have a (big) hockey match.
I'm thinking if we're going to make something up, we're going to make something up. But the hockey thing does sound good.
S: Yeah. I think that's the next one we do.
F: That's like "Little Men," where there's the big football game at the end and everyone cheers (laughs).
Q: Talk about the actor who portrays Vinnie, Angelo Tsarouchas. 
F: Steve and I have answered these questions a lot, but the thing is, when he auditioned, first of all, the way his audition piece went had three pieces to it. One of them was the phone call. He's on every syllable of every thing I say. And I really felt like I was telling the story, and Vinnie was eating it up like in real life, with every baited breath, with every syllable, every detail was a gem and he was loving it and he embellished and went off the page.
And the funny thing is, another part of the audition was the thing where he goes "I'm leaving, I don't need this crap" And Angelo, in the audition, was like crying. Not like pretend, like crying. Which we didn't use in the movie.
What I'm trying to say is even though he made the quote-unquote wrong choice, it didn't matter, because he was the guy. You know what I'm saying Steve? It's a lesson for actors auditioning, even though you could say his choice was quote-unquote wrong, it didn't matter, because, yes, that's who Angelo is.
I don't mean he's an agorophobic. He's the opposite. He's traveled the world. But... People ask him "How long have you and Fred been friends?" And I tell them I met him at the audition. People immediately think we've been friends for 20 years.
S: That was the key to the auditions. We saw a lot of very good actors who did a lot of very good performances. But Angelo was the first and only person who Fred said "I could see this guy really being my friend." It was that kind of rapport. Even though Angelo was not as an experienced actor as some of the people we saw, or wasn't as famous — we saw a couple of well known people — the relationship, the rapport that they had was really what carried the day.
F: Yeah, and he had that love of life, which was the contradiction. Vinnie was an agoraphobic, but still he loved life in his own way, even though he didn't do things that people do, like go on vacations and go outside. He still had a passion which Angelo exuded.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Conspiracy Theory? "True Bromance" film on Condoleezza Rice to screen Oct. 15 @ CAFF

Depending on who you ask, the comic farce “True Bromance” either was or wasn't threatened with being pulled from the Carmel Art & Film Festival.
As it stands, the film will screen at 6 p.m. Saturday at the All Saints Theater in Carmel.
Over the weekend, the film's director Sebastian Doggart issued a press release saying the film was being pulled under pressure from Condolleeza Rice.
The former Bush Administration Secretary of State is the film's subject/target.
“This has all the hallmarks of Rice or her cronies scaring the film festival into pulling the screening,” Doggart said in the press release.
Festival communications director Shannon Damnavits said that simply was not the case.
“We have never heard from Condoleezza Rice or any extreme right wing entitiy to pull the film,” said Damnavits. “We are not going to break under any pressure (to pull a film).”
A conversation between Doggart and festival organizers settled the matter.
“We're here to support and endorse the filmmakers,” said Damnavits, “Not to restrict them.”

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

James Franco confirmed for 2011 Carmel Art & Film Festival

Actor James Franco will debut his film "Sal" @ CAFF

Actor-turned movie director James Franco is the latest celebrity to be confirmed for the 2011 Carmel Art & Film Festival, scheduled Oct. 12-16.
Franco will debut his film, “Sal” in at 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Sunset Center auditorium. Franco will stick around for a Q&A with the audience following the screening.
Tickets and information are available at
Franco's addition to the festival was an arduous process, according to festival communications director Shanon Damnavits.
“This has been something we've been hoping to pull off,” said Damnavits. “Several of the actors coming to the festival are currently in production and on location working. It's really hard to lock them down until the 11th hour.”
“Sal” is a biopic about Hollywood actor Sal Mineo, who was murdered in 1976.
A teen idol early in his career, Mineo was best known for his appearance opposite James Dean in the film “Rebel Without a Cause.” For his performance, Mineo earned the first of two Academy Award nominations.
 Val Lauren was cast in the title role. Franco, who directed the film, also has a role in the film.
 The Carmel screening represents the film's North American premier. Franco previously screened the film at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Video: Zoe Boekbinder "Make A Mess" x Alternative Cafe show info, album review link

Hand me a late pass on Zoe Boekbinder's "Make A Mess" video, which was released last week.
Her new album, “Darling Specimens,” was released this week. You can order it at 
Read an album review (written by former Monterey County Weakly writer Stuart Thornton) here. 
Below is info on Boekbinder's Saturday show @ The Alternative Cafe.

What: Zoe Boekbinder, The Alexanders, Warbler in concert
Where: The Alternative Cafe, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside
When: 8-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
One of the Boekbinder sisters, aka Vermillion Lies, Zoe Boekbinder revels in sultry vaudevillian cabaret and sly humor. She takes her music seriously, herself a little less. Her new album, “Darling Specimins,” will be available for purchase. Two songs, the shuffling “Don't Tell Me” and the quirky “Make A Mess,” are available for streaming at The Alexanders and Warbler open. $12. All ages. 583-0913,

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Excerpt 3 of Untitled Book Project

"Yo, did you hear that?" Ant said, eyes wide open. "What was that?"
"I don't know, but it sounded close," Zamudio said, his head on a swivel, ready to fight if he had to.
"I bet it was the security guards," Arnel said.
"Let's bounce," Danny said, putting his tin box into his jacket pocket, paranoia shooting through his veins and killing his high. "I ain't getting caught up here."
The four started back to the pole when they saw a bright light shoot up to the sky near the ledge. There was a loud ruckus and what sounded like a voice on a radio. The light pointed up to the sky near the pole, waving left to right, as the voices got louder.
"What iss that?" Z said, as Arnel ran to edge to get a look.
"Oh shit!" Arnel whisper-yelled. "There's two cops down there."
"Did they see you?" Ant asked.
"No. They’re talking to each other,” Arnel said as Ant pulled up behind him. Both boys ducked their head as if to hide in an invisible shadow. “The squad car is right there."
"What do we do?" Ant said. "Danny, you gotta toss that bag."
"I'm not wasting my weed. I just bought this eighth," Danny said.
"Dude, we're gonna get busted with that if you don't toss it," Ant said. "I'm not getting busted the day before school starts."
"There's only one way out of here," Z said, facing toward the opposite edge from where the cops were. He walked across the roof, his long legs moving him across quickly. He reached the ledge and looked straight down at the ground. The reflection of shadows from the pool lights wavered on his face, revealing the manly stubble on his cheeks and neck.
"I'll go first," Z said, sounding like an Indian at Wounded Knee.
"Dude, how are we going to escape? They'll hear us make a splash," Ant protested, clearly scared at the prospect that the cops, and worse, his mother would bust him upside his head.
"All we gotta do is jump, cut across and climb the fence. They still have to get inside the building. We can cut out the back door and hide in the fields," Z said, adding "I've done it before."
"Dude, and we're gonna be soaking wet all the way home in this cold," Ant said.
"What, you afraid of catching a cold?" Danny said.
"And what, you afraid of losing your weed? It's gonna get wet anyway," Ant said.
"That's what blow dryers are for," he said.
"I'm going," Z said, and before anyone could say a word, he stepped up on the ledge, took a breath, and jumped feet first into the swimming pool. The cops must have heard something because the lights that were pointed up toward the roof came down quickly.
"Screw it. Filipinos are good divers," Arnel said, running across the roof and jumping feet first. Below, Z was just exiting the pool when Arnel hit the water. His small body made a much quieter splash than Z.
"Oh well. I guess this is keeping it gangsta," Danny said, as he stuffed his box into his pants. He stood up on the ledge for a half-second, then jumped feet first. He jumped wide enough to land in the middle of the pool.
As Danny emerged from the water, he looked up, along with Z and Arnel. No one said a word as Ant stood with one foot on the ledge, the other on the rooftop. He looked down at his friends, feeling a gust of wind that knocked him a little off balance. He thought about what would happen if the cops took him home, about the sting from a slap courtesy of his mom's right hand. The cold air pierced his nostrils with each breath he took.
"Damn," he said to himself, as he balanced himself on the ledge. He jumped, and without realizing it, closed his eyes mid-air. He splashed and felt his feet, legs, torso and hair soak all at once. Flapping his arms, he surfaced to the air quickly and felt the sharp chill sting his face. He let out a quick gasp, not sure if he was alive.
"Man, you're such a chavala. Why you lag for," Danny said, reaching down and helping Ant get out of the water. Danny had a funny way of being supportive and condescending at the same time.
"Let's get out of here," Ant said, trying to wipe the water out of his hair before motioning away from the pool. The two boys ran toward the chain link fence and scaled it in an eye blink, meeting up with Arnel and Zamudio, who were already on the other side. The four ran across the plaza area, past the palm trees, the food hut, past classrooms and billboards and lunch tables, to the back entrance. The back door entrance to the school was locked from the outside, but it was the only entrance that didn't have a padlock and chain. Zamudio kicked it open with one big swift, powerful right leg, setting off the alarm.
The boys made a dash to the lettuce fields that lay behind the P.E. field and connected to their neighborhood. Alert, cold and soaked, with the night chill exhaling with each pant, they ran through the fields they had grown up in, that some of their parents had worked in, that were now an escape route they owned in the night. The dim glow of two police flashlights grew faint in the distance. The cops didn't even know who or what was going on up on the roof.
They reached their home block of Countryside Drive, without saying a word. Once in safe territory, they barely looked at one another before going their separate ways. Ant and Danny were next door neighbors, so they walked in the same direction.
Ant reached into his pocket and removed the wet remnants: his rhymes were soaked and the ink was wavy in some points. Luckily, he had memorized most of the raps he wrote. Besides, that's what blow dryers are for, he said to himself.
Danny walked by his side, silent, his wet feet scrunching with each step. He reached into his pants for his tin box. He opened it.
"Damn. It's all dry. My weed didn't get wet," he said with a laugh.
"Well aren't you the lucky jerk," Ant said, not really mad at his one-time best friend.
"Don't get all sad because you lost your lyrics. Now you'll just have to go write some more gangsta shit," Danny said as he headed towards the walkway to his house.
"I hope you catch a cold," Ant said, walking to his house. 

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Mike Mills "The W Freestyles"

The kid Mike Mills of Seaside has unloaded a robust collection of new material via "The W Freestyles."
The freestyle mixtape is available for free at
You can also peep game on the media player above.
And before I forget, welllummmmmm...

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Video: Seaside Stretch gets into it with Rick Ross @ VMA's

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Some video of Seaside Stretch getting into an argument with Rick Ross at last night's VMA's. Stretch, a Peninsula native, manages Kreayshawn, who was nominated for best new artist (she lost to Tyler the Creator).

Although you only get to see the back of Stretch's snap back for most of the video, he clearly ain't having it with Rozay and whoever that other big dude stepping up on the platform was.

It's cool to see a local guy up in the big leagues, but I don't think he intended to be seen in this light.

In any event, big up to Stretch for holding down his artist and reppin' the 831 @ the VMA's.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Excerpt 2 of Untitled Book Project

When Danny finally pulled out his stash, he looked straight at Ant.
"I'm calling bullshit," Danny said, as he dumped the weed out of his shredder and onto the tin box top. “You’re dad is messed up lying to you like that.”

Ant was crushed, but he kept it to himself. A shiver ripped through his spine that he couldn’t hide, but it wasn’t from the cold. He sat silent and watched Danny place the weed into the rolling paper gingerly, pinching the paper between both thumbs and pointer fingers. He rolled it until a perfectly proportioned joint sat in his two hands, sealed with a quick lick on the gummy part.
"Dude, the town was never like this until he died and they named a school after him. That's what my dad said," Ant said. "He said the last thing he ever wanted was to have a school named after him because kids hate going to school. He didn't want his name associated with something kids hated."
"That part I believe. I hate this place," Z said. "I wouldn't want that either."
"You're tripping, Ant. My parents been working the fields for like, a long ass time. Since they were kids. They said it's always been like this," Danny said, pulling out a lighter to spark the joint. He inhaled the smoke in a quick breath, the plume escaping for a split second before retreating through Danny's mouth and nostrils, into his lungs. Danny exhaled slow, took another hit, and passed it to Ant.
"Man, you know I don't smoke. It's supposed to go to the left, anyway," Ant said, offended by Danny’s every gesture.

"If you don't smoke, then how do you know it goes to the left?" Danny said, bogarting a toke before passing it to Zamudio.
"Because the song goes "Pass the dutchie to the left hand side" dumb ass," Ant said. "I can't believe you can be so paranoid about cops but think it's safe to smoke a joint out in the open."
"This ain't the open. We're on the rooftop. And besides, they don't have security guards here anymore. They finished all the construction," Danny said, the paranoia gone in a cloud of chilled smoke.
"Hey man, what's that over there," Arnel said, pointing toward the row of aged palm trees in the campus plaza. "I thought I saw something move."
"Dude, there’s nothing over there. You ain't even high yet," Danny said with his head turned, trying to figure out if he saw anything.
"Man, I ain't getting caught here again. Last time they rang the alarm, we almost didn't make it out," Ant said, getting nervous. "You sure they don't have security guards here anymore?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. We've been coming here for how long now and never got caught? Come on now, you're tripping," Danny said, clearly high off just one hit, getting the joint back from Arnel. Ant was still nervous.
"So, what's up Ant, you got anything new for us or what?" Z asked, looking more relaxed now that he had taken a toke.
"What? Man, I don't know. I been writing some stuff, but nothing I'm too hype about," Ant said, his mind trying to figure out what he wanted to share with them.
"Aww, man, come on. You know you got a whole new stack of shit on you," Danny said, taking a long toke before passing it to Z. "I could hear those papers crumpled in your pocket all the way over here. I’m surprised the security guards didn't hear that."
"I thought you said there were no security guards," Arnel reminded him.

"Whatever, man. Seriously though, when you gonna spit some gangsta shit for us, Ant? When you gonna write about your homeboys in East Salas out here banging and slanging and thangs," Danny said, his voice hitting a low register that resembled a gangsta drawl. "Like some Mac Bullet shit."
"You heard that new Mac Bullet mixtape? That album is hard," Z said, taking a long, mean pull, his bear lungs sucking in twice that of Arnel and Danny. “He's got a song on there, "Killa Hoe," that bumps."
"Mac Beezy is tha truth," Arnel said, taking the last of the joint and trying to salvage a hit. His lips put out the joint.
"Man, I don't know about all of that. I ain't really feeling that Mac Bullet shit. He just raps about getting shot and making money," Ant said. "I don't respect the person who got shot. If anything I'm gonna respect the shooter."
"See, that's gangsta. Why don't you spit like that," Danny said. "Come on, show us your latest."
"Well, I wrote this one to remind me of the cold-ass summer, chillin' literally on the rooftop. I guess this is my back to school rap," Ant said, finally pulling out his short stack of rhymes. He had about eight or nine new raps he had written that week, most of them already memorized. Ant liked to keep the paper with him just in case.

"Aww shit, Ant-Sleezy in the house. Haters start hating," Arnel said, his Filipino accent butchering the ghetto slang.
Ant flipped through his papers but he already knew what he was going to say. Still, there was a sense of security in looking down at his scribbles, even if he wasn't reading off the page.
"Alright, check it out...
A-yo, cold ass night in the summer but I'm blazin/
ain't nothin' to do, always the same thing/
Kids on the block actin' hard like retards/
I need to find something to do, and still be smart/
So we takes it to the spot on midnight creep/
Four-deep, steady quiet so the pigs don't peep/
My boy D's got the bomb but you know I ain't trippin/
Big Z got my back, so you know I ain't slippin/
Nel's up top and you know it don't stop/
Bout to hit the cash crop even though I don't cop/
cause in the Salas valley, that's just how we do/
Ain't nothing wrong with chillin' out with the
Ant stopped to catch his breath, and without realizing it, he opened his eyes. He wasn't sure at what point he had closed his eyes. He wondered if the guys noticed.
"Damn, that was pretty tight man," Z said, his head nodding in approval. "You even mentioned the valley in there."
"I like that one, it sounded like some east coast stuff," Arnel said. "I'm not into that stuff, but it sounds good from you."
"You still need to spit some gangsta shit," Danny said in his typically disapproving tone. "Listen to some Mac Bullet. Some hard shit."
"Man, I ain't trying to be hard. I'm trying to be complicated," Ant said, his joke registering nothing from the rest of his boys. He sighed quickly before hearing what sounded like a loud thump. All of the boys jumped in response.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Video: Cali Yun-Gun "YGTV Channel 831"

Some heat from Salinas' own Cali Yun-Gun. He reps the town, and he reps it well.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Andre Nickatina performs Thursday in Salinas

Bay Area rapper Andre Nickatina returns Thursday night to the Fox Theater in Salinas. Hosted by DJ Solrok of 102.5 KDON. Tickets are available at

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Shepard Fairey coming to West End Festival in Sand City this weekend


Contemporary artist Shepard Fairy, best known for creating President Barack Obama's "Hope" poster, will exhibit his work this weekend at The Independent gallery in Sand City.
Presented by Toyroom and Outer Edge Studio, "Shepard Fairey: An exhibition of Fine Art Prints" opens with a private reception from 7-10 p.m. Friday at The Independent, 600 Ortiz Ave., Sand City. The private reception is rsvp only. You can rsvp at
A public reception will be held from 5 - 10 p.m. Saturday.
There will be a VIP party hosted by the Monterey Contemporaries from 8-11 p.m. at The Independent. Admission is free for Monterey Contemporaries members. To join, visit Non members will have an opportunity to join on site and gain admission to the party.
Fairey is expected to attend both events.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Excerpt 1 of Untitled Book Proect

A Quick Note:This is the first in a serial, an untitled, unfinished, unedited book project I've been writing for the past few years. You can read my introductory column Here.
The serial will run for 6 to 7 installments over the next two months. Feedback is encouraged.
Thanks for reading - Marc Cabrera

A foggy night in Salinas is colder than a slap from mom. Ant thought to himself as he braced to climb the drainage pole leading up to the Steinbeck High School rooftop. He figured his mother's reaction would be an ice-fisted slap to the cheek if she saw her boy preparing for rooftop mischief. A nice, stinging, open-hand right to the kisser. The night fog hung in a blotchy mist, covering the stars in a blanket of dark smoke. The valley hid in the shadows.

Ant climbed the rain gutter like an extremely amateur telephone pole engineer scaling an electrical pole. He was careful to balance his toes on each peg, measuring his weight with each step. This was routine for him. Over the summer, the school rooftop became the official hangout spot for him and his homies Danny, Zamudio and Arnel.

"Hey Ant, try not to fart on my face this time," Arnel said as he followed Ant up the pole, his short, solid frame easing its way up the metal facade. "You got me with my mouth open last time. I almost puked."

"This time I'm gonna drop a deuce in there" Ant said, drawing chuckles from Danny, who was already up top and looking down at the rest of them. Zamudio was on the ground, waiting for Ant and Arnel to get up far enough to scale the 20-foot pole.

Arnel snorted his laugh and kept climbing, not garnering a response. Ant climbed up the last few feet before reaching up and grabbing Danny's hand, careful to lean his body forward and over the raised ledge that outlined the rooftop. He pulled his right leg over the edge of the roof, followed carefully by the left leg. Arnel sped up right behind, his light frame flipping over the edge in a gymnastic half-flip.

That left the lumbering Zamudio to trudge up the pole with the speed of a low-rider cruising East Alisal Street on a packed Sunday night. His first name was Anthony, but the crew called him Zamudio because there were already two Anthony's.

Anthony Reyes had been called Ant since he was an elementary school sugar freak - his mom used to call him holmiga because he always wanted sugar.

Anthony Zamudio became Zamudio because everyone in his 300-block of Toro Avenue started using his last name whenever it came up, as in "Did you hear Zamudio kicked Antwon's ass?" Or "Did you hear Zamudio got busted for bringing a knife to school?" Zamudio also had the odd pronunciation with "moody" in the middle, and although that was just coincidence, it wasn't by much. Eventually that was shortened to the easier to pronounce Z.

"Hey Z, can you go a little slower? School's gonna start by the time you get up here," said Danny.

"Hell naw. We're all gonna be seniors by the time his big ass gets up to the top" said Ant, letting out a cackle that pierced the fog and spouted a dragons breath of chill from his narrow mouth.

"You want me to go down there and carry you up?" Arnel tried to add on to the cap fest. "I can jump down and climb up and push you from the bottom"

"I bet you'd like to push him from the bottom, huh" said Danny, the resident cap artist. When Danny saw an opening, he exploited it. "Bottom pusher."

"Shut up! I'm trying to concentrate!" said Z, his usually kick-back demeanor lost in his loud bark, a bark not nearly as ferocious as his black-eye inducing bite.

Z pulled his way up the final few feet, his stocky frame clinging to the skinny pole for precious life. Ant, Danny and Arnel stepped up and helped pull Z over the ledge. Z gave a slight grunt and heaved his cumbersome frame onto the rooftop. The fact that he could balance six-foot and
200-lbs plus on a thin, steel pipe, 20 feet, was no minor feet of athleticism. Z could have been a killer tight end or power forward if he wanted to. He could have been anything if he wanted to be anything at all.

"Hey girl. Are you done being a chavala?" Danny said impatiently, as Z kneeled on the rooftop for a minute. "Can we get out of the light before the cops see us?"

"Man, ain't no cops around here. You're always paranoid" said Ant, his hands reaching into the large pocket in front of his favorite, black San Francisco Giant's hoody. He touched through the short stack of folded papers in his fingers, barely paying attention to what he was saying.

"Besides, bigfoot here would just sit on them if they came up."

"I’ll stomp on them if they get crazy," Z said again with a snort, finally getting up and walking towards the spot where they normally kicked it. Arnel followed behind, while Danny and Ant took up the rear. Each boy exhaled a gust of chilled air in the thick night.

Danny took a seat near the ledge, his back facing the school swimming pool and about a 20 foot drop into some extra-cold water. Ant sat on Danny's right hand side, throwing on his hood and giving a quick shiver, a reaction to the valley cold. It was the end of summer, school was going to start and already the fog was doing its worst to prepare Salinas's young people for an autumn of discontent.

"Man, we live in Cali and we still get shitty weather out here," said Arnel, taking a seat on the ground just to the left of Danny. Zamudio dusted off his brown khakis and oversize army jacket before plopping down next to Ant. The four boys huddled on the dank rooftop as part of their Sunday night ritual, all hoodies and tennis shoes and hormones and misguided innocence, trying to warm up without letting the other one know they were cold.

"It's the curse," Ant said to Arnel. "The curse of John Steinbeck."

"What you talking about? That ain't true. That's like one of those old lies, like the haunted tree on Old Stage Road and shit," said Danny. As he talked, he pulled out a small tin box that contained his personal possessions: a bag of weed, a pack of cigarettes, rolling papers, scissors, a round shredding device, and eye drops.

"It is true. And that haunted tree on Old Stage is where they used to hang Mexicans back in the day," Ant said, defensive and matter of fact in one shot. "The curse is true, my dad told me about it."

"What is it?" said Z, who now had his arms wrapped around his knees to try and ball up his body for warmth.

"It's the spirit of John Steinbeck. He wrote all these books back in the day, like the Red Pony and The Pearl. Stuff they made us all read in school," Ant said, as all three nodded in agreement.

"Anyway, back in the day he used to write all kind of stories that pissed off the rich farmers in Salinas."

“Man, I remember the Red Pony," Arnel said, his voice a pubescent screech. Arnel was the smallest and least developed of the crew. "That stupid book where the dad kills his kid's pony or something like that?"

“No, dumbass, the pony dies and the dad doesn't do anything to console his son," said Z out of nowhere. "What was up with Steinbeck pissing people off?"

"Anyway, he used to write these books that, like, talked about poor people. Farm workers and stuff. He would write them and the white farmers here all got pissed because he was dissing them. And, anyway, they burned his books and Steinbeck got pissed and kept writing, and he left Salinas and never returned. But before he did, he cursed the city because they didn’t support his work. So when he died, he said he didn't want anything named after him, but they went ahead and named the school after him. He got so pissed that he gave us all this fog and crappy weather. That's why it's never sunny here in Salas, because even though Steinbeck never returned, his spirit refused to leave. That’s why it's the curse of John Steinbeck. That’s what my dad told me."

The boys sat silent for a second, save for the sound of Danny rummaging through his weed box.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sincere/Nima Fadavi video teaser. "The Calm Before The Storm" project coming soon

A little late on this one. Here's a video trailer for "Each One Teach One," the single from Sincere & Nima Fadavi's upcoming project "The Calm Before The Storm." Hopefully we can get Sincere or Nima (or both?) for an interview soon. The full video is set for a Sept. 5 release.

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TBS Cancels "Lopez Tonight"

Just read on the wire that TBS is canceling "Lopez Tonight." Thursday will be the show's final episode.
You can read the LA Times article HERE.
In announcing the cancellation, TBS released the following statement:

TBS has reached the difficult decision not to order a third season of Lopez Tonight. Thursday will be the final episode of the show. We are proud to have partnered with George Lopez, who is an immensely talented comedian and entertainer. TBS has valued its partnership with George and appreciates all of his work on behalf of the network, both on and off the air.

Lopez is scheduled to perform with Carlos Santana Sept. 24 & 25 at the Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View. Tickets are available at

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Video: Monterey's The Sauras w/Illmaculate vs.Feelgood, Tricky P @ King of the Dot 2x2 rap battle semi-final

The 831's own The Sauras, two-time everything, links up with his partner Illmaculate for this 2-on-2 battle against the home team of Feelgood and Tricky P.
This is a great exhibition for both sides, and for the KOTD battle league in general. Each side seemed genuinely impressed with the other, which made for a cleaner, more exciting battle. It's great when battle rappers can appreciate one another's work while simultaneously giving an honest effort to destroy the opposition.
BTW, the IllSaurus team is going to win the tournament.

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Playlist, links for DJ Kazzeo's Aug. 8, 2011 Wednesday Wreck show

I'm a bit late with the playlist and links from last week's Kazzeo show. Kazz brings the old school heat ("1999," "MC's Act Like The Don't Know) with a few contemporary bangers.
You can download the podcast HERE and HERE. Playlist is below.

PLAYLIST FOR 2011 08 03  common feat. sadat x - 1999 notorious b.i.g. feat. method man - the what nas - ny state of mind smoothe da hustla feat. trigga the gambler - broken language edo g. - i was there soul brotha feat. blaq poet, nyg'z, & krumbsnatcha - real mc's d.i.t.c. - the enemy gangstarr feat. inspectah deck - above the clouds canibus - get retarded royal flush - movin' on ya weak production krs one - rappaz r n danja a plus feat. del - californication black moon - i gotcha opin group home - the realness family tree - virgo blahzay blahzay - danger gza feat. ghostface & masta killa - 4th chamber o.c. - my world m.o.p. - breakin' the rules gangstarr feat. rakim - the militia (remix) raekwon feat. method man & ghostface - ice cream
Randy Kazzeo Novelli4:56pm Aug 5
PLAYLIST FOR 2011 08 03

common feat. sadat x - 1999
notorious b.i.g. feat. method man - the what
nas - ny state of mind
smoothe da hustla feat. trigga the gambler - broken language
edo g. - i was there
soul brotha feat. blaq poet, nyg'z, & krumbsnatcha - real mc's
d.i.t.c. - the enemy
gangstarr feat. inspectah deck - above the clouds
canibus - get retarded
royal flush - movin' on ya weak production
krs one - rappaz r n danja
a plus feat. del - californication
black moon - i gotcha opin
group home - the realness
family tree - virgo
blahzay blahzay - danger
gza feat. ghostface & masta killa - 4th chamber
o.c. - my world
m.o.p. - breakin' the rules
gangstarr feat. rakim - the militia (remix)
raekwon feat. method man & ghostface - ice cream

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Tix still available for Saturday's John Waters stand-up show at HML in Big Sur

Director/creeper John Waters will give a one-man stand-up show Saturday night at Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Tickets are still available.
Per a press release, Waters said "I talk about everything. I talk about show business, fashion, religion, terrorism, everything you need to know to be a happy neurotic."
Below, the Lonely Island/Nicki Minaj video for "The Creep," featuring Mr. Waters.

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"Watch The Throne" downloaded, waiting for play

I pre-ordered a copy of "Watch The Throne," the Jay-Z/Kanye West album. The download was available at midnight, but I couldn't keep myself awake that long. Woke up and found the download ready and waiting for me.
The album is now sitting on my laptop, waiting for me to listen. I'll try and tweet some thoughts as the day goes along, but not sure how much I will share.
In any event, the album was released without a digital link. Hov and 'Ye should be commended for giving music fans something to look forward to, building anticipation and making it a reward to stay loyal and actually purchase music. It's sad to say, but it's a feat that artists can actually, you know, get people excited to buy music.

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Author Luis Rodriguez coming to Salinas Sept. 21

Luis Rodriguez, author of "Always Running— La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA” will visit The National Steinbeck in Salinas at 7 p.m. Sept. 21. More info to come.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Video: Ghambit "See The Light"

Watsonville's finest, Ghambit, representing with the official video for his single "See The Light." S/O to G and his Villderberg company. Recognize.

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El Tri, Molotov coming Sept. 10 to Salinas Sports Complex in Salinas

Rock en Espanol legends El Tri return to the Central Coast with Molotov for a pretty huge concert, Sept. 10 @ The Salinas Sports Complex. Visit for tickets and info.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

UPDATE: Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine story on Red Hot Chili Peppers secret show @ Henry Miller Library in Big Sur

Spin Magazine posted a review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers show last night at Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. You can read it here.
Herald reporter Mac McDonald was in the house. Cross your fingers for a review.

Below is the set list published in the Spin article.

Monarchy of Roses
Universally Speaking
Look Around
Factory of Faith
Throw Away Your Television
Parallel Universe
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
By the Way

Don't Forget Me
Give it Away

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Wednesday Wreck Playlist for July 27, 2011

DJ Kazzeo posted his playlist for the 7/27 Wednesday Wreck show. Worth tracking these down and listening.
Kazzeo has been recording podcasts of his shows, so I will try and update this post when he puts that up. In the meantime, if you can track down these tracks, it's worth a listen. Kazz always brings the heat.

PLAYLIST FOR 2011 07 27  masters of illusion - bay bronx bridge (kmk 10 year anniversary remix) nas - nasty apathy - check to check pete rock & smif n wessun feat. buckshot - night time skyzoo - get him to the greek big shug - we miss you (guru 50th birthday tribute) rasheed chappell - 1 2 3  co$$ - judgement day born undadogz feat. june da kid - back then mike beatz & adonis feat. skyzoo - blackout elzhi - detroit state of mind pete rock & smif n wessun feat. freeway - roses tone splif feat. sean prices, irealz, & baby blak - most recognized apathy - word to the 23rd freestyle action bronson - beautiful music casual feat. moonshyne - divine dreams edo g. - i was there a plus feat. del - californication artifacts - turn it out channel live feat. krs one - mad izm esik & eme 7 feat. empress 1 - down beanie sigel - b boy shit freeway - for the paper edo g. - stop it
Randy Kazzeo Novelli12:51pm Jul 28
PLAYLIST FOR 2011 07 27

masters of illusion - bay bronx bridge (kmk 10 year anniversary remix)
nas - nasty
apathy - check to check
pete rock & smif n wessun feat. buckshot - night time
skyzoo - get him to the greek
big shug - we miss you (guru 50th birthday tribute)
rasheed chappell - 1 2 3
co$$ - judgement day
born undadogz feat. june da kid - back then
mike beatz & adonis feat. skyzoo - blackout
elzhi - detroit state of mind
pete rock & smif n wessun feat. freeway - roses
tone splif feat. sean prices, irealz, & baby blak - most recognized
apathy - word to the 23rd freestyle
action bronson - beautiful music
casual feat. moonshyne - divine dreams
edo g. - i was there
a plus feat. del - californication
artifacts - turn it out
channel live feat. krs one - mad izm
esik & eme 7 feat. empress 1 - down
beanie sigel - b boy shit
freeway - for the paper
edo g. - stop it

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A week on Spotify and I'm hooked + early '90s playlist

I've spent a little over a week with my new Spotify account, and I am completely hooked.
Spotify is a European music streaming site that was launched stateside earlier this month. With a free subscription, music listeners have access to a library of 15 million+ full songs, including new albums on their release date.
To borrow from the company's parlance, it's like iTunes for free.
I have the software set up on my laptop, and I've spent a few hours already just exploring music and setting up playlists. The music loads and streams instantly. Playlists can be assembled with simple drag and drop motions.
Assembling playlists is fun because you are not limited to your home library (although you can upload and stream your personal music collection). The lists can stretch as wide as your imagination.
I have four public playlists right now, which are very specific: Early '90s hip-hop, '80s funk/soul/hip-hop, '80s pop, and mid-late '90s hip-hop. A fifth playlist is assembled from DJ Kazzeo's Wednesday Wreck playlist.
Anyone with a Spotify account can check out my Early '90s playlist here. In its current state, it features songs from Eric B & Rakim, Organized Konfusion, MC Breed and Brand New Heavies.
For those of you who have not received an invitation, sign up at
And for anyone who has a subscription, my Spotify account handle is marcos.cabrera.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

The great Spotify Experiment

Well, I don't know how great it is, but I'm taking the plunge and trying out the European music streaming service Spotify for a month.
With more than 15 Million tracks available for streaming, it seems like a pretty nifty tool for music listeners. I applied for a free invitation at My impatience got the best of me, and I went ahead and purchased a premium subscription, which runs at $9.99 a month.
So we'll find out what the big fuss is all about and maybe I'll keep you posted.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

This weekend: Chicano Comedy All-Stars, Too $hort Unplugged @ Fox Theater in Salinas

Salinas hosts two big shows this weekend. First off, Friday @ The Fox Theater, The Chicano Comedy All-Stars with Joey Medina hits town.

On Saturday, Too $hort plays with a live band at Fox Theater in Salinas. Guests include Silk E, B-Legit, and Richie Rich. Check out for info and tickets.

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Bocafloja, Cambio/PLG perform Friday @ American Burger in Monterey

Local hip-hop freedom fighters Cambio and Para La Gente reunite Friday night at American Burger in Monterey for a big show. Mexico City rap star Bocafloja headlines.
Also, check out my Sunday feature column on Cambio here.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Video: "Carmel-by-the-Sea" Official Movie Trailer

The official movie trailer for "Carmel-by-the-Sea" starring Josh Hutcherson, Hayden Panetierre, Lauren Bacall and Alfred Molina. Shot entirely in Carmel and directed by Laurence Roecke.

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Henry Miller Library

The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur is building a new stage for their outdoor amphitheater, and they're asking for your help.
They are trying to raise $6,250 to complete construction. The new stage is planned to be unveiled during the sold-out April 14 Animal Collective concert.
They have started a pledge drive at You can view the page here. Full press release after the jump.

The Henry Miller Library is building a new stage for our outdoor amphitheater here in lovely Big Sur, California!
Situated within a redwood canyon, the stage will serve as a functional and sustainable structure, as well as a beautiful artistic statement integrated into its natural surroundings.
The stage will complement our dizzying array of events across 2011, which will include Animal Collective, our Vinyl in the Woods record fair, a tribute to Allen Ginsberg, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, S. Cary of Bon Iver, Bill Callahan (aka Smog) and of course, the world-famous "Big" Big Sur Fashion Show.
And that's just through the end of May - more amazing events are announced weekly!!
Throw in our annual short film screening series, children’s art shows, book readings, writing workshops, and open mics, and you can see why we're so excited.
With the new stage (that's the old one above) we hope to continue to put on amazing events...forever!
And with your help, you can be a part of it.
Your kind donation will be used to offset the construction costs and also help pay for ongoing maintenance, staging area supplies, and production-related expenses.
And we're a 501(c)3 organization, so your donation is tax-deductible.
Local builders have already begun construction. We'll unveil the new stage for the first event of our 2011 summer concert series: an intimate evening with Animal Collective on April 14th!!
Check out our blog and Facebook page for daily updates, and then come visit and see what you made happen!
Your friends at the Henry Miller Library
Project location: Big Sur, CA

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

R.I.P. Nate Dogg

A West Coast original, singer Nate Dogg, who helped define West Coast hip-hop with his signature monotone singing style on numerous song hooks, passed away at age 41. He had been in poor health after suffering several strokes beginning sometime between 2007 and 2008.

I interviewed Warren G in 2009, and one of the first questions I asked was about Nate's health. Warren said his longtime friend was progressing, and they were hoping for a quick recovery, but the tone in his voice was not very convincing. Nate had been suffering for a while, and now he is finally at peace.
I plan on posting a mini-retrospective soon. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on Nate or any of your favorite records. R.I.P. Nate Dogg.

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