Monday, December 4, 2006

Lisa Johnson: Rock Photographer & Echo Park

My friend Lisa Johnson-Rock Photographer (also photo mentor) had a mini gallery showing in Echo Park on Saturday Night. If you don't know her name, well you should. Her photo credits include hundreds of bands and celebs, and those small bands you may have heard of such as Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, No Doubt, Foo Fighters, Rancid, Rage Against the Machine, et. al. Pull out those old cd's... check the photos and credits. There's a good chance she took those photos ;) Lisa is an amazing photographer. She knows how to capture "the moment" and get "the look" from people. She's photographed just about every band i've enjoyed over the years (envy! lol), and then some. Occasionally her photos land the cover of magazines. What i love about her is....she's a REAL photographer. Not some groupie looking to get closer to bands by shooting mediocre photos. She works and works hard. So if you see her work, study it, enjoy it, cherish it :) so......

It was a great turnout. I recognized quite a few familiar faces and voices. It was interesting to see Billy Corgan just hanging out. All those years of being the lead singer songwriter of the Smashing Pumpkins has forced him to keep somewhat of a low profile. Why? Well because of his genius songwriting. He wrote the soundtrack to my teenage years (possibly life). He's a songwriter, musical genius. But a few years ago, the Smashing Pumpkins called it quits. There's now this ongoing rumor that they'll reunite for some small tour or "best of" tour or perhaps new material. That would be interesting. Specially in this day and age with the ever-changing music biz and the increased pressures from the sinking ship record labels.

Echo Park is an interesting place in L.A. I grew up there, actually i grew up in Angelino Heights, which is adjacent, below (whatever) Echo Park. I Lived there for 15 years before moving to Eagle Rock (Los Angeles). My italian side of the family lived there for over 40+ years after years in the east coast, after arriving from Italy.

Here's a little tidbit of Echo Park history:

- Echo Park was the original center of the film industry in Los Angeles, before the studios moved to hollywood just before World War I.

- The area has continued to be used as a location for films such as Farewell, My Lovely, Echo Park, Mi Vida Loca and Quinceanera. The 1960s television series Gilligan's Island was shot in the area as well as scenes in Michael Jackson's 1982 music video Thriller, as were parts of the original 1953 film version, The War of the Worlds. The Manor, a house in the television series Charmed, is also located here. The area is popular with modern filmmakers for the pre-World War II look of some districts.

- During the 1960s and 70s, the area became known as a hippy enclave, and attracted many young musicians, artists, and craftspeople. Some residents during that era included J.D. Souther & Glenn Fry of the Eagles, Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, and Frank Zappa. The writer and poet Charles Bukowski was known to frequent the local dives, as did actor, Reservoir Dogs and movie tough-guy, Lawrence Tierney.

If you've never driven around West Kensington (my old street/neighborhood) or East Kensington Road, you're missing out. There are over dozens of beautiful victorian homes that have been restored. Specially on East Kensington Road and Carroll Avenue. My old neighborhood is known for it's steep hills and Victorian homes. Some of these homes are mansions. Just beautiful. As a kid, some of these homes were known as "haunted houses". In the early to mid-80's, these homes were desolate, and always appeared empty. Some were kept up, some weren't (haunted). After Lisa's photo exhibit, my friend and i took a ride through my old neighborhood. Things have changed. People must have either sold those victorian homes or restored them. They are beautiful. They make you feel like you're back in the 1840's, with goth and romance in the air surrounding the beautiful architecture.

It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since i've driven down my old street or neighborhood. It brought back many many fond memories of growing up. I remember it as the "old italian neighborhood" that bordered china town. It's now one of the trendiest parts of L.A. to live in. Good luck trying to buy a home there ;) I on the other hand, am looking for a home in the Northeast part of L.A., namely North Eagle Rock ;)

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