Sean Carnage’s Best List: The L.A. places, people, & music that matter


2019 was a really reinvigorating year for me and I hope it was for you too. I switched jobs and had some time off in between. I used the time to clear my head, reconnect with friends, read, and just generally reclaim some long-term interests including some dormant video and writing projects including upkeep on this site.

I’m already jamming on 2020—so look out! There’s a lot of cool stuff coming your way. Like…

40 Bands 80 Minutes! available online for the first time?! Stayed tuned. Big announcement coming soon in time for the 14th anniversary of the filming on March 6, 2006.

But for right now, let’s look back at 2019…

BEST L.A. PLACES

As you probably can tell from the destinations listed below, I was seeking the spirit this year. While the quest continues, I met so many wonderful folks and saw so many gorgeous places along the way—and they were all less than 60 minutes from any spot in Los Angeles.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

I’m going to write a full post about this incredible, spiritual, welcoming place. But don’t wait until I do—visit now.

With incredible hand-carved architectural details, otherworldly devotional spaces, and a delicious cafe and store (those pickles! Omg omg. Obsessed.), the Mandir is nearby (off the 60 and the 71 in L.A. County) and equally worth it for heads and families alike.

Hsi Lai Temple

Another devotional spot that’s worth road-tripping to. It’s the largest Buddhist temple outside of Asia and it’s right in our backyard. This place is jaw-droppingly beautiful, the volunteers are so loving, and it boats yet another stellar veggie cafe.

Visit now.

Bhagavad Gita Museum

This museum is part of the Hare Krishna temple in my hood, Palms. Very psychedelic. Read all about it.

The Krishna temple has an excellent cafe too! Recurring theme eh? Food and uplift. We got this 2020!

You have no excuse not to visit.

BEST EVENTS

In 2019 it was all about the ladies.

F.L.O.W. featuring Candy Pain

No one smashed the patriarchy with more verve and style than Candy Pain (aka, Mikki Yamashiro) and the Future Ladies of Wrestling at the Ace Hotel during Palm Springs Pride.

Sandra Bernhard at the Carpenter Center

I reconnected with my old Queer Edge boss, Sandra Bernhard, and she’s even deeper and more human, without losing any of her edge.

Isabella Rossellini at the Broad Stage

Isabella Rossellini is an icon and a star and a uniquely intellectual stage performer. Her Link Link Circus was all about animal intelligence. This animal certainly came away smarter—and superbly well-entertained.

BEST VIDEOS

The Queer Edge with Jack E. Jett

Naturally I’m most proud of reigniting interest, in a small way, about my mentor and hero, Jack E. Jett.

I put 32 lost episodes of this groundbreaking, star-studded show, The Queer Edge, online and you can watch them now! Seriously, they are a blast so put them on shuffle during your break and enjoy.

Jack was the world’s first out gay talk show host.

Jack gave me and so many underground musicians and performers a national forum.

And against insane freaking odds, we discovered where The Queer Edge master tapes have been hiding.

Whew!

I can’t wait to dig into the next phase (getting monies to digitize the tapes) in 2020. I could really use some help—I’m counting on you.

Chaki – “The Water”

Chaki, Valley native, funk wizard and my friend, slides in here with his brand new video for “The Water.” Watch, enjoy, and know that when his album drops in early 2020, you can get the full scoop here.

BEST MUSIC

Yacht

This band has always brought a smile to my face, but on their latest, Chain Tripping, Jonah and Claire (plus John “The Juan” Maclean from Six Finger Satellite) aka Yacht have done the extraordinary—they’ve upgraded their music’s danceable foundation with unexpected, AI-derived beats and chord changes AND produced ten of the most memorable melodies of the year. I am so massively impressed. More than that, I can’t stop listening!

They took over my Spotify. Thanks so much for this wonderful album that blends my love of iterative computer music experiments (esp. Nate Didkovsky and Doctor Nerve) with nü disco. Absolutely brilliant.

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Health

Health belongs in the pantheon of all-time greats as they cruise from strength to strength—always consistently experimental and rocking. Their show at the Fillmore made my entire fall. Thanks, guys.

John Zorn / Laurie Anderson / Terry Riley

Although I also saw Terry Riley solo in Los Angeles (thanks, Narin), it was this dream show at the Chapel in SF that was the highlight of the Spring.

Hammered Satin

Saw them at Hushe Clubbe on Don Bolles‘ birthday. Wow! I didn’t think they made glitter rock like this anymore. Hammered Satin forever!

Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito has maintained their top-of-the-heap position as the best band of the 2010s and I am forever indebted to them for bringing such great rocking pop music into this world. If you haven’t heard KKB, what the hell are you waiting for?

Chee Shimizu’s Obscure Sound playlist

Chee Shimizu is an excellent Japanese DJ who embraces an aesthetic of “Floating”, “Tropical”, “Mellow”, “Cosmic”, and “Organic”-sounding old LPs. He put his best picks in a book, Obscure Sound, that has not yet been translated into English.

No matter. Some enterprising Spotify programmer has put them all on this incredible playlist.

Spotify tells me I got turned on to 606 new artists via this playlist—606 quality artists. What? For months at a time I had it on shuffle with few if no repeats. It’s like the best college radio station circa 1989 ever. I won’t steer you wrong—this is the best playlist on Spotify.

BEST PODCAST

Podcast 99 Voyage Institute

Podcast99

Woodstock ’99 just celebrated its 20-year anniversary and this crew made us remember every terrible detail. Thanks, guys.

Read all about it here.

And listen:

BEST BOOKS

Hollywood’s Eve by Lili Anolik

Lili Anolik is a superb writer writing about a superb L.A. writer and art scene icon, Eve Babitz. This really is a must-read. Just get it. If you live in Los Angeles you won’t be able to put it down. I went down an Eve Babitz rabbit hole that I have yet to emerge from. Babitz is major major major….

High Weirdness by Erik Davies

High Weirdness explores the how / why / when / where of 1970s sci-fi drug trip literature with an emphasis on the Terence Mckenna, Robert Anton Wilson and, my favorite, Philip K. Dick. This book is, therefore, irresistible. Definitely pick this one up.

Born to be Posthumous by Mark Dery

Mark Dery invented the term “culture jamming” which is so of my era (the 1990’s) and about this era (2010s) so, yeah, perfect choice to write the ultimate biography of my childhood idol, and secret gay icon (no wonder I turned out how I did), Edward Gorey. I can’t think of a more perfect read.

BEST CAUSES

Become a Coaxial member

The last 10 years have seen a brutal decline in the number of all-ages DIY galleries and small performance venues. That’s why we have to support the ones that are here now, doing it right.

Like Coaxial. Proprietors Eva and Brock are longtime scene pillars who have created something really special here.

Read about Coaxial’s drive to enhance accessibility + become a member

Help Chef Josh open his first cafe

Traveling vegan chef extraordinaire Joshua Ploeg has been all around the world spreading his love and great food and spirit of mischievous anarchy. Now he’s aiming to put down roots in Billings, Montana, with his first vegan cafe.

That’s far away and you wonder why should I help?

Well, besides being a dear friend to so many of us, Joshua is the singer and performer behind legendary bands (like Ur-Queercore band Behead The Prophet, Warm Streams, Select Sex, et al.), a confirmed ’70s hard rock fan, a Dio documentary helper, the LA vegan empanada man of the 21st Century, and an all-around Sean Carnage Monday Night mainstay.

Josh has keep our bellies full even when we had no or low $. Let’s help him get established. You’ve always wanted to visit Billings, right? With Josh there you’ll have a local connect. A delicious meal.

Help Joshua with early costs for his cafe

THANK YOU!

Have a safe and wonderful New Year. I am very grateful for you, my friends, and life in general.

I’d love to connect with you, so hit me up.

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