The is something magical about collaborating on a duo level. The direct link between two artistic souls can produce things impossible in any other setting. But rather than listen to me blather on about why I like to work in a duo setting, enjoy this poem about such collaboration by CULA’s own, Phil O’Connor:
Independent souls, working for a goal.
Searching their thoughts and experiences of time spent
Alone: independent of goals or reasons
thinking of their time spent
from anyone telling them what they can or can not do
what they should or should not do
they can or can not see
Look here watch me dance
look hear my trance
Listen to the sounds I explore
as you watch the graceful one dance
upon cement floor
LISTEN AND LOOK
the years spent alone in hidden rooms falling, failing and flailing
Hiding tears sweat and rage
Finding answers of the pages
that cannot be bought, studied, or sold,
Until time spent in the dark and cold
has transformed these individuals into
for a morning.
at a morning duet.
the way thoughts organize are more deeply woven
words are written and not just spoken.
Come dance with me,
my soul is not broken.
Come play with me,
my heart is not broken.
“I’ve been laboring on this mother for 4 years, ” says Dorian. “After immersing myself in themes of heartbreak and woe on my first album, I felt a great need to allow myself to be angry. So, for 4 years, I’ve been angry. It’s my angry album about the end of the world and also women’s rights and transgender rights and also how I hate the Americana on Brand in Glendale.”
“I’ve been blessed with an ocean of friends who have contributed their time and talents to Rattle Rattle”, Dorian continues. “It’s been a life-long dream of mine to be able to achieve something of this scope, and in the company of such incredible artists, no less!”
The official record release for Rattle Rattle will take place at The Echo in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, March 5, at 9:00PM. Dorian will be accompanied by many of the musicians who made appearances on the album, including his choir, The Difficult Women. The evening will kick off with special performances by Killsonic and the dance/multimedia collective WIFE.
“Armed with a vocal charisma that would befit a preacher and an experimental streak that would make avant-gardists swoon” (WNYC Culture), Dorian Wood is a wunderkind with a headstrong DIY discipline. He has brought his emotionally-charged performances to concert halls, museums, music venues and performance spaces throughout the US, Mexico and Europe, with a voice that channels the skill and ferocity of such auteurs as Scott Walker, Nina Simone, Nick Cave and Tom Waits.
Born in Echo Park, California, Dorian began his musical education at a very early age, continuing his studies at Conservatorio de Castella in Costa Rica, and eventually making his way back to Los Angeles, where he first gained exposure performing on the queer bar circuit. His debut album, BOLKA, received wide critical acclaim for its impeccable merging of folk, soul, Bulgarian choral music and experimental music. His follow-up EP, Black Pig Suite, featured members of the L.A. experimental orchestra Killsonic, of which Dorian was a principal collaborator and performer for 3 years.
In early 2010, Dorian was joined onstage by legendary artist Little Annie at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York. That same year, Dorian received critical praise for his performance and “picture perfect” art direction (Los Angeles Times) in the Killsonic opera, Tongues Bloody Tongues, presented at the REDCAT in Los Angeles. Dorian performed at the REDCAT again in 2011 in the opera Zoophilic Follies, along with Timur and The Dime Museum.
In 2011, Dorian was commissioned by LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) to present a new work for the performance series Los Angeles Goes Live, part of Pacific Standard Time. Dorian’s performance installation, Athco, Or The Renaissance of Faggot Tree, incorporated over 30 performers, and was presented at Barnsdall Art Park. That same year, Dorian performed with acclaimed artist Marina Abramovic in her piece An Artist’s Life Manifesto, presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
Dorian has also performed at LACMA, UCLA, Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica), Pacific Design Center (West Hollywood), The Stone (New York City), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco) and the Stockholm Fringe Fest (Sweden).
Dorian is a Los Angeles native.
Official Website: http://dorianwood.com
At the last big CULA meeting, the idea of multimedia Valentine’s Day cards was floated around the room. And my perspective was that the words I LOVE YOU on a greeting card have different meanings if matched with, say, pictures of a puppy, a clown, and a tombstone.
From there came the decision to do three cards, which I was to write, with the music and visuals flowing from there. So that night, I sat down and wrote the “official” text to the following cards:
I LOVE YOU…
SO MUCH I FEEL KISSED BY YOUR WINGS.
I LOVE YOU…
SO MUCH I CAN BARELY STAND.
I LOVE YOU…
SEE YOU IN HELL.
From there, the musicians and visual artists took it away. I threw WINGS at Laura Lee Bahr, one of my favorite young L.A. writers. Dan brought Dorian in for HELL. And I took the drunk one in the middle, as usual.
This time, I wanted to wait till all the rest of the art was done before adding my final two literary cents. So it wasn’t until I saw the movie I CAN BARELY STAND, choreographed to the original music, that I looked at the 10 seconds of black space between the movie and the credits, and squeezed in a couple of couplets that helped it all
make emotional sense to me.
— John Skipp
Kissed By Your Wings
by Laura Lee Bahr
I feel kissed by your wings
Held in place by your weight
Tendrils opening in all directions
I see, hear, feel
Because of you
You grow up into me
I root down and drink deep into you
We grow together in all directions
We belong here
We belong here
to each other.
We are home.
Away from you
I have lost myself
I lose myself
into the infinite that is each moment.
I see how each thing is mad of a million other things.
I know how everything I am,
everything I dreamed I as,
or dreamed to be
the cashew shape your eyes make when you smile
the light from the window playing on your bent head.
Everything i am.
Everything I dreamed I was.
Or dreamed to be.
Will not be
but a breath like a sigh like an ache from a long journey
but a laugh like a song like a quiver in a long clear note
but my blood, my brain, my bones and of course
All dreams spill out like liquid
And disappear like smoke
To hold you,
to keep you,
Every time I hold you
My heart breaks at how much I need you to stay
Exactly as you are
And how much you have changed.
I feel kissed by your wings
Held in place by your weight
I am more
Because of you.
We belong here.
We belong here.
To each other.
We are home.
- Laura Lee Bahr
A Note from Jose Gurria, the composer:
“I love you so much I feel kissed by your wings. In this piece of music, I intended to express a sense of levity and stillness. This is music is not a definition but rather a description of how I feel these days of silence. This vacuity holds an important message for me and resonates deeply in my creative work. It has always, but now more than ever, constitutes the marrow of what I need to express myself. When I thought about the action of something or someone been kissed by wings, it makes me think about my sons Camilo, Nicolas and Amaro; the three of them far away, but closer than ever in this auto exile that I find myself in. The melodies in this piece seem to be coming from moments of love, pensiveness, sadness, melancholy…
But also from hope……”
A Note from poet Laura Lee Bahr:
“When I was first brought on, I thought about I first time I felt pure love for this city– it was years after living here, and long after my heart had been ripped out and my dreams had been driven over and ground into the freeway. When my heart grew back, it was pure. And I didn’t need my dreams anymore. They were part of the air I breathed here.
I wrote a little about that.
Then I saw the visuals and heard the music and canned what I had written before and wrote something entirely different and about the purest love I know: watching what you love grow into someone else.”
I Can Barely Stand
by John Skipp
Sometimes, the city
Dances with us
Most times, we’re dancing
Alone with the spirits
It does what it does
No matter what
We had planned
I love you so much
I can barely stand
A note from Aubre Hill, on of the choreographers/dancers:
“In approaching this piece, we quickly honed in on the idea of the universal experience of lost & longing. Of the need we all have to connect & how addictive that need can become. Having two dancers with vastly different backgrounds made this the perfect example of how across life styles, cultures, and personalities, we all experience and desire similar things in this life. To love and be loved in return, to give care and be wanted, and to see and be seen.”
- Aubre Hill, Choreographer/Dancer
A note from Gavin Templeton, one of the composers:
“I Can Barely Stand is a composition consisting of an A and B section. The A section was composed by me, where I based the form and rhythm of my section on the Morse Code spelling of ‘Love’. The spelling is as follows:
(L) • • – • (O) – – – (V) • • • – (E) •
Assigning the dots as two eighth notes and the dashes as threes eighth notes provided an off-kilter rhythmic foundation on which I placed a subtly weaving chromatic bass and piano line.
The B section was composed by Cathlene. She used a more organic approach with her composed section, basing her melody on wide intervals and chromatic harmonies.
With that said, we had two sections of music that needed to be programmed properly and then sewn together. We found that my section flowed nicely into Cathlene’s. As a transition between the two section, the Morse Code motif was again introduced, this time as an ostinato pizzicato cello groove which continued into the ‘B’ section, while the Bear Tracks played an atmospheric sound scape. From there, the tune just fell into place without too much thought. The drums played an upbeat groove joining the cello. Cathlene and I played the unison line that she wrote and the road map of the tune just kind of happened (basically ABA, with A’s and B’s repeating within the form). We did our thing, which meant us coming together listening to each other and improvising.”
A note from Cathlene Pineda, one of the composers:
“Intoxication and love are two very connected sensations that can fill us with joy and sadness, confusion and clarity, vivacity and despair. With the inspiration of the “drunken valentine card” concept, I composed a melodic progression of falling intervallic phrases and descending inner voices to create a dirty yet comforting sense of melancholy. The material hints at romanticism at some points, while the widely spanning melody creates a feeling of loneliness. The two extremes come together to create a whirlwind of messy, intoxicated memories.”
See You In Hell
by Dorian Wood
Dearest heart, my all, angel of my song:
For years I’ve climbed a vine to your name. For years I’ve worn the face that you gave me.
Lied to your folks about how you done saved me from wretched life. For years I’ve climbed a vine to
your fucking name. I’ve made excuses, now it’s your family heirlooms that blacken the green of the L.A.
Tell your whore mother I’ll see her in hell.
For years I drank the piss from your veins. For years I’ve heard promises, breaking my back, running my
palms up and down my own little body, while transients wrestle you down with their claws; wrestle you
down with their manicured paws; sucking the sweat from the family crest, and you still want to meet in
Tell your pretty boys I’ll see them in hell.
I can’t believe you’re still talking. Yes, everybody is watching. You promised not to make disruptive
discussions and I promised to always pillow your anger.
(And I did…)
Now I sunk ten daggers into your face, and I can’t believe…I can’t believe…you’re…still…talking.
I wish you well.
P.S.: See you in hell.
— Dorian Wood
A note from Trevor Anderies, one of the composers:
“The concept for the “I Love You – I’ll See you in hell” Valentines card was taken from a few sources. The back drop for the piece is the circular rhythm along joined by the drones. I took this idea specifically from a musical style in Northern Mali called Isswat. Isswat is an activity where the unmarried youth sneak off late at night and assemble. The songs are often provocative, songs of love, albeit it in a very coy and covert manner. Issawat is also the opportunity for the youth to meet and flirt, and in the periphery of the performance, the young boys and girls whisper to one another. This seemed to be a great way to look at the ritual of falling in love as much of what makes up Los Angeles is transplants looking for a place more exciting to sink their roots. The music puts you in some sort of trance, which was our way of exploring the mind set necessary to exist within Los Angeles. It is my feeling that of the many reasons one falls in love with Los Angeles most are associated with an organic quality such as its diversity, culture, and food. As the piece develops more inorganic qualities start to show their presence to the point where they can’t be ignored anymore. These could be things such as traffic, air quality, and Hollywood. As the lyrics show many of us once in love with this vast city become consumed by all that we hate about it until all that exists is our hatred for the City of Angels.”
A note from poet/musician Dorian Wood:
“Somehow, I always wind up on the “Hell” end of things, but really, that’s like a fat kid complaining about too much bacon. So, I took my greasy spoon and chowed down, melding my Christian faith (the worst place you could ever send anyone to is Hell, natch) and my endless fascination with/embracing of transgenderism. God slapped dicks and pussies on every living creature. Some were fortunate to get both, and some were even more fortunate to get (less than) diddly-squat. Valentines Day cards, sadly, were also given dicks and pussies: the “man” giveth, while the “woman” blusheth. Any variation on these, and the know-it-all pricks at Rite-Aid are staring you down until you shit slowly. However, when Dan and Skipp shoved a salad bowl filled with bacon in front of me, I went to town and I sought to give all manner of genital configurists the card that is neither too this or that, but delivers the clear, dirty, unrestrained truth in all of us: Heartbreak makes assholes of all dicks, pussies and everything “in between”.”
— Dorian, age 4
An insinuating introductory greeting
by John Skipp
You know what you like? I bet you do.
Do you know why you like it? Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t.
We are one opinionated species, and that is a fact. We have all kinds of reasons for deciding why one thing is greatness, while another thing blows. All manner of gauges by which to assess quality, and determine intrinsic worth.
Some of us are drawn to virtuosity. Others are suckers for soul. Some of us want to exalt life at its highest, while others find their inspiration in the gutter.
Here’s another way to put it:
“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”
— Horace Walpole (1717-1797)
Bottom line: having landed on this Earth, we have the full range of human perspectives to choose from. (Or inhuman perspectives, should we choose to go there.)
And we like what we like, dismiss what we don’t.
It’s all very personal.
Just like art.
When I was invited to participate in C.U.L.A. – bring my every crazy talent to bear, in cahoots with this vast, diversified pool of extraordinary creatives – the first thing that struck me was how lucky I was.
The second was the vast diversity of that pool.
And the third was, “DAMN! This is exactly what I want, and always try to go for. This is how I think the game should be played.”
When I edit anthologies of fiction (which is something I do a lot), I’ve been able to showcase the works of Angela Carter, Chuck Palahniuk, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, William Peter Blatty, Edgar Allen Poe, George Saunders, George R.R. Martin, Thomas Harris, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch… all sharing the spotlight with dozens-upon-dozens of lesser-known names who deserve to be known, many freshly breaking in, from every conceivable angle.
And the great joy in that is taking the finest examples of highbrow lit and lowbrow pulp – and every great thing in between – then banging them together, and thereby demonstrating the full range of the sparks that fly.
Which brings us to “The Third Brow”: that place that can appreciate them both. Synthesize it into the continuum it is. And therefore appreciate it all.
That’s what I’m rooting for, here and always.
So you may not like everything you see, hear, smell, or otherwise sense here. You don’t have to. You like what you like.
But I hope you will appreciate the sheer scope and generosity of spirit presented by the artists herein. I love these folks, and am proud to be here. Honored to play – because creativity, at its best, is play – with such talented, honest, genuinely idiosyncratic human beings. Expressing the living shit out of themselves.
Past that, I’m hoping to meet extraordinary people here, and find out just how many of you badasses are out there.
This life is an adventure.
Nice to meet you!