Tanja M. Laden Fraggle Rock
When she was 12 years old, Beth Barrial had a life-changing experience in a park after dark with some friends.
"A scent passed me by that sparked a strange, unfocused memory from early childhood," she describes. "I had a sudden recollection of one perfect moment of joy and complete freedom, unfettered by worry, responsibility or care, and it was truly a moment of contact with the sublime."
Not unlike in Marcel Proust's famously extended account of eating a madeleine and drinking some tea in his early-20th century work Remembrances of Things Past, Barrial realized that the scent is what triggered her memory, so she immediately became enamored with the sense itself: "I pursued my interests in fragrance the old-fashioned way -- through apprenticeship. I had no intentions of turning my interest in perfumery into a career. It was something I loved, and something I wanted to learn and experience for the sake of that love."
But she has turned it into a career. Together with her brother Brian Constantine, Barrial started Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab in 2000 in the back room of her then-boyfriend Ted's Echo Park apartment. That boyfriend is now her husband, who's since launched Black Phoenix Trading Post, which deals in dry goods, beauty products and other stuff related to the fragrance line. Together, the trio still runs a family-owned business that specializes in making one-of-a-kind products inspired by specific memories, pop-culture icons and a wide variety of other unusual sources.More »
The Magic Castle, the 100-year-old Victorian mansion that serves as the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magic Arts, caught fire on Halloween last year. The fire began in the attic. It burned a hole in the roof, progressed to the third-floor administrative offices, slipped between the walls, then leaped from helicopter news cameras to TV screens -- straight into the hearts and minds and imaginations of magicians across the Southland.
As word spread, people worried. They worried about the staff. Did everyone get out OK? Then they worried about things. Priceless, irreplaceable things, such as the original trick billiards table from W.C. Fields' stage show in Ziegfeld's Follies. Or items hanging in the Gallerie de Arte, such as the rare program from a Royal Command Performance for Queen Victoria. Printed on silk with a lace border, it was the queen's personal program, handed to her one Monday evening in 1855.
They worried about other things -- mundane but invested with meaning. The brass owl with the glowing, ruby-red eyes, sitting on a bookshelf in the foyer: Whisper "Open sesame," and the bookshelf slides away to reveal the Castle's secret entrance. Or the baby grand Baldwin piano played by invisible Irma, the Castle's "resident ghost," who takes requests. Did Irma, some folks joked, get out safely?More »
Ever had questions about Hell, Satan or various and sundry demons? Then TV writer Martin Olson's Encyclopaedia of Hell: An Invasion Manual for Demons Concerning the Planet Earth and the Human Race Which Infests It will prove most edifying, as it sheds some much-needed comedic light on the dark side.
Purporting to be a detailed manual for demons who are invading the Earth, with a truly encyclopedic glossary of terms featuring often hilarious definitions, fastidious, Sears catalog-Gothic artwork by Tony Millionaire and Mahendra Singh and interesting cosmological stories and sidebars, the comedy is close-to-the-vest and sophisticated enough that the exceedingly pious and godly may still take offense at its flirtation with the Satanic and demonic.More »
Filming was well under way when news of the ghost began to circulate. They were shooting the final scenes of the movie K-11, a prison thriller, at the abandoned Sybil Brand Institute women's correctional facility in City Terrace east of downtown.
One of the crew members, who declines to be named, was upstairs in the solitary-confinement area fussing with the ventilation system. It was a hot day, and the abundance of lights and wires was only making it hotter. Talk about a creepy place. Pigeons had flown in through broken windows, died of thirst and been eaten by rats. Their skeletons littered the floors, heaped upon years of accumulated filth.
As he worked -- alone -- the crew member got the distinct and eerie impression that he was being watched.More »
Angelenos are crazy about their astrology. We're dying to know what's in the stars for future loves, riches and life's whopping changes (positive or otherwise). But what about the city itself?
Illustration by Fred Noland
LA Weekly sat down with local celebrity astrologer Dr. Craig to uncover L.A.'s star sign, and to grab a few predictions for a handful of Southland locales in terms of the economy, style and politics. Dr. Craig is long on experience with typical types of clients both locally and worldwide, but he also commands the capable chart-reading chops to look inside a city's complex urban soul - this being a very specialized level of understanding indeed.More »
Tanja M. Laden Dome and performance stage at the International Alchemy Conference
Whether it's through Kundalini yoga, Vedic astrology, FengShui, Wicca or Kabbalah, the people of Los Angeles have always been willing to go to any lengths to find answers to the unexplained, especially with 2012, a magnet for New Age theories, a few months away.
But if this year's International Alchemy Conference is any indication, those lengths don't exactly include driving to Long Beach.More »
|Courtesy of Paranormal Challenge/Travel Channel|
|Host Zak Bagans at the haunted hospital|
It's twilight as Zak Bagans stands outside the old Linda Vista Community Hospital on L.A.'s Eastside and explains how he knows it's haunted, which is why a film crew is inside at this very moment.
The hospital has been the site of various movie and TV shoots, including End of Days, Day of the Dead 2 and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Tonight, however, it's ghosts, not actors, the cameras are after.
Bagans is the host, a judge and an adviser on Paranormal Challenge, a new reality series that pits teams of paranormal sleuths against each other. By turning ghost hunting into a head-to-head competition, it ups the ante on another reality show, Ghost Adventures, which Bagans also stars in.More »
Courtesy of Jodi Wille Eat you heart out Harry Potter -- this is what witches and wizards really look like
The full moon was in Aquarius and Mercury in retrograde as members of L.A.'s cosmic mafia -- a fashionable collection of white witches, black wizards, Crowleyites, healers, shamans, alchemists, magicians, cult members, Aquarians, Santeria priestesses, bohemian artists, mystically-minded musicians, pagans and acid hipsters -- gathered at Cinefamily on Saturday for a crash course on witches, and why we love to hate on them.
The night was sold out, which was no surprise -- magic and occultism are alive and well in Los Angeles, and in the popular culture in general. Black mass images, upside-down crucifixes and pagan imagery have infiltrated fashion magazines everywhere, not to mention musicians' minds -- take witchhouse artists Salem, demon rappers Odd Future and even Lady Gaga, all of whom have been borrowing from the grand library of the occult.More »