"Behold the beautiful in your own backyard," is the main themes for this week's poem, "The New Beautiful." I know I am not alone when I say I am very thankful for the Los Angeles art community.
Every year for the last 14 years, on the night before Thanksgiving many of L.A.'s most active underground club DJs and promoters have joined together for a one-night only party called "Thanksgivends." Big name DJs sacrifice a night of pay and all of the proceeds are donated to arts programming for underprivileged and at risk youth at agencies like the Mar Vista Youth Center.
Back in 1998 Tarek Captan aka DJ Dusk was the resident DJ at the world famous funk and soul club, the Root Down. Dusk had been volunteering as a youth mentor at the Mar Vista Youth Center for a few years and he thought that a one-night only event to raise funds for them on the day before Thanksgiving made sense. He approached the Root Down founders Carlos Guaico and Miles Tackett and they agreed to call other DJs and promoters about throwing a big annual party for charity. They came up with "Thanksgivends." 14 years later the party's going stronger than ever; hundreds were expected to share their funds and move their hips again this year in a large Downtown L.A. warehouse.
I first attended Thanksgivends in 2000, and over the years went on to perform spoken word or co-host at several of the annual jams. I haven't attended since my daughter was born three years ago but the party goes on and the city's a better place because of it. In addition to generating funds for the Mar Vista Youth Center they also raise funds for "Peace4Kids" and "Sessions LA."
This year there were over 40 DJs on the bill, including AL JACKSON * ANTHONY VALADEZ * BEN DIGGIN * BENCY JIMENEZ, JR. * BONDS * CANYON CODY * COLEMAN * DESTROYER * DONGUAPO * DURAN CASTRO * ERVIN ARANA * FRANK FOREAL * GOZAR * HIGHER * HM SOUNDSYSTEM * INKA ONE * JEDI * JUN * LARRY G * MANDO FEVER * MELAAZA * MILES * MONALISA * MZA * PANAMAMI * PEOPLE MOVER * PHYZ.ED * PLANN.B * PROPHET * PUFFS * RHETTMATIC * RICK WREN * ROME * RUDYC. * SAV * SEANO * SELECTRA * SCOTT K • SEVEN57 * SOFIE * SOL * SLOE POKE * THE REMITCH * THUMBPRINT * TILT * WORDAMOUPH and WYATT CASE.
Over the years I've called these DJs and the countless other community artists around Los Angeles, "the New Beautiful." The New Beautiful carries the timeless thread tracing back to the Transcendentalists, the Romantic poets, Metaphysical poets, the Beat Generation, Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement. The through line running through movements immemorial is the truth. Truth over artificial. Real wood instead of fools gold.
The New Beautiful is comprised of Urban Alchemists, individuals and groups working together on the local level to make the city more sustainable. The vibe resonates in districts like Boyle Heights, Echo Park, Leimert Park, Venice and venues like Low End Theory, Afro Funke, A Mic & Dim Lights; Poets, painters, musicians, DJs, dancers, designers, photographers, filmmakers and many folks defying description.
vanguards of righteousness
Magicians for a better tomorrow
Fighting the good fight
Poets unite, keep the verse tight
Writers write, write the light,
Singer-songwriters write songs to sing
Sing us songs of freedom.
Turntablists turn tables to turn the tables
Painters paint the difference..
Within the web of Los Angeles traffic is a network of progressive artists and urban alchemists working vigorously to improve the city. I am thankful for their efforts. Behold the beautiful in your own backyard.
- More on L.A. Letters
- West L.A.'s Little Osaka, Rollin' With Dre and Margaret Hermes
- I Am Alive in Los Angeles Revisited
- Literary Touchstones of L.A. Letters
- Beats and Rhymes: Nobody Knows What's True Anymore
- A People's Guide to Los Angeles and Gary Phillips
Top: Peanut Butter Wolf at Thanksgivends, 2008. Photo by sunny_J used under a Creative Commons license.