I Am Los Angeles: No Faking the Funk


I Am Los Angeles is a video portrait series created by journalist and filmmaker Joris Debeij, showcasing the unique people and their ideas that make L.A. what it is. KCET Departures will be featuring these videos as part of our continuing coverage of the shifting cultures of Los Angeles.

As an introduction to the series, here's what Debeij had to say about the project:


I arrived here in 2009 to continue my work as a Dutch journalist in Los Angeles. After living here a little while, I gradually started to become aware that there was a Los Angeles which was unknown to me before I was a resident. My eyes were opened to seemingly-hidden places and local gem spots, and to the interesting way different neighborhoods intersect and cause their inhabitants to blend together around the boundaries.

The result of this is a far more interesting city than one expects in comparison to the glitz and glam of Hollywood often singularly portrayed about L.A. in popular culture. As a European transplant, it was this side of the city -- and the multi-faceted culture of its inhabitants -- that made me feel comfortable calling Los Angeles home. As I became more and more interested in this idea and in the people who make L.A. what it is, I decided to try to portray Los Angeles the way I see it -- through my camera lens, and via the stories of what I think are its more fascinating inhabitants.

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I launched my ongoing documentary project, I Am Los Angeles, on the first of January, 2010 as a solo project and I hope its continuation will mean that people always have access to an alternate perspective on this great city.


No Faking the Funk

It takes a lot to intimidate Josh Koslow, a native Texan, who moved with his family to Venice Beach in the mid '80s. Venice was a different place then -- the streets were ruled by gangs, surfers and skaters. Sometimes you had to run and sometimes you had to fight for your ground. It wasn't long before Josh was going by the nickname "Texas" in surfing and skating circles.

Life throws curve balls, including the occasional economical downturn. Josh now works as a wood floor maker, and times have not been easy. As challenging that can be, Josh is in
balance -- because of his passion for music.

But music has always been in Josh's life. He was raised in a very musical family, and he was just a kid when he chose the trumpet to be his voice. Josh has been jamming ever since he was young, and learning more and more every day. When Josh was introduced to the world of jazz in Los Angeles, he started going to spots like the World Stage in Leimart Park -- where the doors were opened by its co-founder, the legendary Billy Higgins.

It can be intimidating at times -- if you don't know the song, then you have to stay seated until a song you recognize comes along. Josh walks into the World Stage, and the joint is filled with experienced jazz musicians. The jam session rolls on and Josh takes a seat. When his chance comes he stands up and walks onto the stage. As he puts the horn to his lips and begins to jam, you can practically see the rest of everything begin to drift away.

Josh Koslow in Venice | Photo by Joris Debeji


Check out more video portraits at I Am Los Angeles.

About the Author

Dutch-born journalist and filmmaker now based Los Angeles.
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