My LA to Z: Exene Cervenka

Exene Cervenka, who fronts the band X, tells us where she shops for music, finds crazy looking outfits, and gets free dessert


exenecervenka_feat.jpg Exene Cervenka with her band, X. Photograph by Frank Gargani

Exene Cervenka moved to Los Angeles from Florida when she was twenty-years-old. With a reissued collection, Porterhouse Records Prime Vinyl X, out now, the punk rocker is working on a solo record set to be released next March. 
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Watts Towers

The Watts Towers are a work of art and a monument to freedom. They’re a great place to just sit and relax. I saw a multi-cultural drumming show there some time ago, and it was a very special performance. I’ve seen so many other live shows there, and they were all very beautiful.

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Brat is this great gift store in Santa Monica that sells just about anything. It’s a place where you can find crazy looking outfits, baby clothes, gifts, and books. Everything there has a fun side to it, so I like going here to buy gifts for friends.

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I love, love, love, love Chinatown! I would rather go to Chinatown than any other place in Los Angeles. It’s one of the few places in Los Angeles that is still original. The old part of Chinatown moves me because I spent so much of my early twenties there. This is where the Hong Kong Café was, and it was the most unlikely place for a punk club in Chinatown. My band played a lot of shows there, so we have some great memories.

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Beyond Baroque

I always will love Beyond Baroque. It has survived some different incarnations, but it still has the same heart and soul. I think this place definitely needs people’s support because it’s an important literary foundation, and if they go under, we’ll lose the library. I used to work there, so I know the library is just absolutely insane. It’s got all kinds of first editions and irreplaceable Charles Bukowski books and others by important writers from Los Angeles.

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Venice Beach

I loved coming to Venice Beach with my son. When he was really little we were so broke we couldn’t really afford to go out to many places. We would just go play at the playground nearby. Venice Beach will always have a special place in my heart because I discovered it on my own when I first came out to Los Angeles.

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Border Grill

I just really love the service there. They’re just so nice to me, and I always get free dessert. They treat you like you’re a cousin who just came home from abroad.

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Vinyl Solution

I’m a huge supporter of independent record stores, and it’s a shame that there aren’t a lot left around. I love Vinyl Solution, though. I can walk in there and maybe find one of my own records that I don’t have in my own collection – that’s how amazing this place is. Or they’ll have a band that I really like from the punk days. This place is almost like a library: the workers are really nice and knowledgeable, so you can learn a bunch of stuff when you’re in there just by browsing or asking questions.

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Redwood Grill & Bar  

I first discovered Frank Fairfield when he performed there, and watching him play will always be one of my favorite L.A. memories. I didn’t think anyone on the planet could do what he does—that happy and meaningful point where beauty, soul, music, integrity and genius all mix together into one incredible thing. If my friends visited Los Angeles, and it was the right night of the week, I would take them to the Redwood to see him play.

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McCabe’s Guitar Shop

McCabe’s is a guitar shop, and they also have great live performances. I’ve played there many times. Henry Rollins opened for me when we were both doing poetry. This was when he had first realized how powerful of a communicator he was. I remember that era of shows there quite a bit.

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My Backyard

I spend a lot of time in my backyard and garage, which is actually a huge mess. It looks like a factory with records, clothes and things scattered everywhere, but it’s my own little studio. I take no responsibility when it comes to messiness—it just happens. This is where I find the inspiration to do a lot of collage artwork, write songs, play with my dog, and work.

Images courtesy (in order): (1), (2), (3), (4) Flickr/beyondbaroque, (5) Flickr/4x4jeepchick, (6), (7) Myspace/vinylsolution, (8), (9) Flickr/freeloosedirt, (10)


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