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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
Exene Cervenka with her band, X. Photograph by Frank Gargani
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Images courtesy (in order): (1) wattstower.us, (2) bratstore.com, (3) chinatownla.com, (4) Flickr/beyondbaroque, (5) Flickr/4x4jeepchick, (6) bordergrill.com, (7) Myspace/vinylsolution, (8) redwoodbar.com, (9) Flickr/freeloosedirt, (10) westernproject.com