“Tales of the American” — a new documentary about the Downtown Los Angeles arts scene from the makers of “Young Turks” and Executive Producer Michael Connelly — is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
“Tales of the American” tells the story of the American Hotel, located at the heart of what has come to be called the Arts District. Built in 1905 as the city’s first hotel for African-Americans, the modest brick building at the corner of Traction and Hewitt has always been a haven for society’s outcasts, a magnet for colorful characters and a hotbed of creative energy.
From 1980-2001, it was the home of Al's Bar, a legendary dive featured in "Young Turks," where punk bands like Black Flag, X and Nirvana played before finding fame and fortune.
Narrated by public radio personality John Rabe, “Tales of the American” features archival photos and footage, and interviews with artists, musicians and others who lived, worked or played at the American Hotel. Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have captured the history of a landmark, and the free spirit of a creative community now facing the challenges of overdevelopment and gentrification.
In Michael Connelly’s new novel, “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” iconic detective Harry Bosch follows the trail of his case into L.A.’s Arts District. He’s a private eye now, after being forced out of the LAPD, and his investigation draws him to Traction Avenue and landmarks such as the American Hotel and the triangle lot between 3rd & Rose.
Bosch is one of the great characters of mystery fiction, right up there with Philip Marlowe, and like Marlowe’s creator, Raymond Chandler, Connelly paints a haunting and vivid picture of Los Angeles and the Southland in all his Bosch books, including “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” As the New York Times writes, “the settings will be etched into the Bosch road map of California life.”
Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer, filmmakers of “Young Turks” and “Tales of the American,” are very proud and honored to have shared some insights with Michael Connelly in the preparation of this book.
“Tales of the American” is in post-production, but “Young Turks” can be viewed on all digital platforms, including Amazon Prime, which also is producing the TV series, “Bosch,” now filming its third season.
People magazine, in its style section, features an article on Gillean McLeod, who once played drums and other instruments as a member of the Party Boys, a seminal Los Angeles punk band featured in "Young Turks."
The 60-year-old McLeod, a stylist and model, is breaking boundaries in a new ad campaign for H&M swimwear.
In two recent articles, Los Angeles Times writer Carolina A. Miranda reminds Angelenos that there were artists, galleries and others in the Arts District before it was called the Arts District.
Stephen Seemayer, artist, filmmaker: "It was very bleak. There wasn’t crack yet. There wasn’t AIDS. But there was a sense of desolation. It was so desolate that even the cops didn’t really want to deal with you. I was 3 to 4 blocks away from the Newton Division and it’s famous in the LAPD. They were called the 'Shootin’ Newton.' I was like 22 at the time. I would be there at my studio and they’d see me out of my car and they’d roust me and said, 'What are you doing in this neighborhood?' And I’d say, 'I live here.' And they’d say, 'Get out!'"
Artist Stephen Seemayer has used his own image and the element of fire in his works since beginning his career as a teenager in the 1970s. This work was created at a studio in Downtown Los Angeles in virtual reality, using oil paint and fire brushstrokes.
More great music from The Dark Bob, this time in collaboration with Lewis MacAdams. Produced & arranged by the dynamic duo, "Good Grief" features DJ Bonebrake on drums, Nels Cline on guitar, Danny Frankel on percussion and Ryan Zin on bass, with Mike Bolger, Michael Intriere, Glenn Nishida & Jack Skelley.