Monday, July 14, 2008

shout bamalama

seeing the forward and the monthlies at the alterknit reminded me of a notice i got from the knitting factory earlier this month: the l.a. building and safety department is apparently angling to revoke the club's conditional-use permit -- the rules it has to meet in order to be allowed to exist -- which would effectively shut the place down.

this venue (front bar pictured above) has been around since 2000, long before the trendy-nightclub set moved onto hollywood boulevard and surrounding side streets. i've been to and reviewed many shows there of all kinds of pop styles, in the big rooms and small, from stuffed-to-the-rafters to nearly empty and everything in between. i am sure the place has seen its share of the sort of sometimes rowdy action that nightclubs get, but B&S goes so far as to say, according to the knit: "that the club is a 'nuisance' and does not comply under 'upscale restaurant guidelines.'"

uhm, huh? you mean like the hooters across the street?

the invocation of the vague requirement of "upscale" is just weird. i remember when the knit came to town (branching out from the famous NYC spot), b/c i wrote a story about it for los angeles magazine. and when i interviewed knitting factory founder michael dorf all those years ago about bringing his brand to hollywood -- this was before hollywood & highland had opened, before the boulevard was the hotspot it is now -- there was a sense of taking a risk, anticipating an upswing in hollywood nightlife that did eventually happen. but the complex that the knit is in has undergone a lot of changes in that time. indeed, the knit has been quite the survivor in that space. like the press release says:

The Galaxy complex went through a major construction upheaval from 2004 through 2007 and continuing to a smaller degree to the present. During this time, the General Cinema Six Multiplex (later AMC), the Hollywood Entertainment Museum and Tower Records Outlet all went out of business, to be replaced by LA Fitness, DSW, Longs Drugs and Fresh & Easy. Amidst these new neighbors, CIM has denied the Knitting Factory Hollywood Blvd. street signage, and claims that the [queueing] of popular shows is a problem to the retail outlets. During the construction, however, which included the complex’s parking facility being shut for 26 weeks, CIM seemed quite happy to have the Knitting Factory as their (then) primary tenant.

the thing that gets me about the retail outlets allegedly complaining about the lines during popular shows is: it's a nightclub. sometimes there are lines to get into them. such carping is akin to opening your store next to a pizza parlor and then complaining that the area smells of garlic all the time.

anyway. the knit has had its unrealized ambitions -- especially all the online-in-the-club gimmicks -- but it's adapted well and stayed in business. in fact, i've seen some of my fave shows ever at the knit: pj harvey, steve earle, camper van beethoven, the detroit cobras, erykah badu, sharon jones & the dap kings, the soft boys, that shortlist show where sigur ros played. not to mention the return of the jeff dahl band in the alterknit a few years back. and who knows what else that i've forgotten about. there are some clubs i always dread going to; the knit is not one of them.

so, it's sort of impossible NOT to feel like there's some truth to what the knit contends about B&S's attempt to revoke its permit: "Now it seems, to those in power in Hollywood, the Knitting Factory has outlived its usefulness." (i have to add that, for that l.a. mag story, dorf told me he got a "fantastic" price from the developer -- so is it possible the building's owner would also like someone to be paying more rent in that space?)

the club is looking for written testimonials of support from neighbors, music fans, and biz pros -- and it's also inviting everyone to the public hearing coming up downtown this thursday, july 17, at the unfortunately un-rock'n'roll time of 10 a.m. at 200 n. spring st., room 1020, zoning administration.

"The venue and its staff believes their contribution of continually providing live music and performance in the heart of Hollywood in a safe, all-ages environment cannot be over-valued and far outweighs any trumped-up accusations of non-compliance or public nuisance."

if you agree, think about speaking up. you can get in touch with bruce duff, the club's director of publicity and promotions, at

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