Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Hollywood Nights: The Urban Desert Cabaret Review May 17, 2012

Miz Meliz at the Urban Desert Cabaret in HollywoodI had a really good time in Hollywood the other night!  I attended the Urban Desert Cabaret show at the Pig & Whistle Back Room on Thursday night, May 17th.  I spent some quality time with my family.  My brother and sister-in-law were there with my niece and their friends.  I was accompanied by my two best girlfriends.

The music was great and the night was special because there was a performance of a portion of Varieadades, a presentation of spoken word and music by the acclaimed writer, Ruben Martinez.

Besides the amazing bass guitarist, Juan Perez and the phonetic stlylings of Martin Holmes’ poetry, it was kind of a girl’s night at the Urban Desert Cabaret.  The room was visually enhanced by the abstract art installation of Joanna Fodczuk.  Her paintings are passionate and stirring and really set the mood for the evening’s talent.

Miz Meliz with Rachel Gutierrez at the Urban Desert CabaretI was impressed by Raquel Gutierrez who performed with Martinez and included a reading of her own work as well.  Even though she comes off edgy, deep, personal and raw – I found Raquel to be cool, smooth and a powerhouse of Latina strength and fortitude.

I dropped her this note after she accepted my friend request on Facebook:

“Hi Raquel, I enjoyed your performance at #UrbanDessertCabaret! I’m posting a review on my blog, do you have a website I can link to? Or upcoming shows you’d like to plug?”

She replied promptly:

“Hi Melissa, that’s really cool! My blog’s been for years now and I am on twitter @raquefella. I’ll be here on June 8:

Awesome!!  I look forward to seeing her perform again!

Miz Meliz with Cala Elaine at Urban Desert CabaretThe highlight of the evening for me was early on when I was delighted by the incredible performance of guitarist/songstress, Cala Elaine.  I can’t wait to see her perform again. I was intrigued by the combination of her strong sultry voice (reminiscent of Stevie Nicks) and her soulful charm and grace (a little like Jewel.)  She had so much energy and depth in her performance and when I had a chance to meet her, she was friendly and genuine.

Cala and I also exchanged Facebook pleasantries and she has some website updating and more gigs in the works.  Definitely go see her (and any of the artists from UDC) if you can – you will not be disappointed!

Everything about the line up was just as described by the organizer (my cousin) Joe City Garcia on the Facebook Event Invite.  All the terrific artists coming together for a show that always seems to end too early!  The poetry, the exceptional musicians, the atmosphere and the venue – all added to the perfect evening.

The food at the Pig & Whistle was great, the margaritas are pretty good (made with a splash of orange or pineapple juice.) I just hated to leave!  The UDC combo is just getting started when they “play us out.” as everyone says their good byes.

I hope to see you next time at the Urban Desert Cabaret this Summer.  You might even see me make an appearance and read my own original poetry!!

Miz Meliz and Jonathan at Urban Desert Cabaret

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Urban Desert Cabaret A Favorite Hollywood Hot Spot

Bien Venidos a Todos! Welcome All!

Tonight’s special event hosted by Joe City Garcia will be one to remember!!

Featured guest artists for tonight’s performance include: Martin Holmes (Poeticus Racontaurus), Martínez del Río – Variedades (Ballad of Ricardo Flores-Magón), Cala Elaine (Songster of Exquisite Passion), Juan Pérez (his Awesomeness of Bass), Joanna Fodczuk (abstract installation) and songs and jams with the UDC combo: Dean H. Chamberlain, Jeremy Gilien, Tonya Lee Jaynes, Robert Matsuda & host Joe City Garcia.


  • Thursday, May 17, 2012
  • Back Room, 714 Hollywood Blvd.
  • $5 cover.
  • Full menu and bar.
  • Street parking only enforced until 8PM
  • $5 lot @ Cherokee & Selma.

Join the Event: @

Tell Me More Miz Meliz!

  • The Urban Desert Cabaret is a collaborative bi-monthly event consisting of guest songwriters, poets, spoken word artists and musicians. Conceived and hosted by Joe City Garcia.
  • The Pig’n Whistle Back Room is an intimate venue, a secret oasis amid the ‘new’ Hollywood Boulevard. Located between Las Palmas and MacCadden Place, you can enter from the side off of MacCadden Place between Selma and Hollywood Blvd. In fact, if you wish to avoid the boulevard altogether, you can circle around the back from Selma and look for street parking (only enforced until 8PM on Thursdays) or park in one of the lots ($5 lot @ Cherokee & Selma.)
  • Segments of L.A.’s hit performances of Variedadeswill be part of tonight’s showcase at Urban Desert Cabaret.
  • Joanna Fodcuk’s installation of Abstract Art will be highlighted tonight at the event as well.

Come back this weekend to read my ramblings of my experience at tonight’s Urban Desert Cabaret!!

VARIEDADES, the regular “performance salon” hosted by author and performer Rubén Martínez took stage in four installments at the famous Echo Club in Echo Park, in November of 2011.  Variedades focussed on an expansive theme: the Desert, in all its immensity, beauty, and fearsomeness. An eclectic bill of artists rendered the “land of little rain” as desert scribe Mary Austin once called it, with music, spoken word, comedy, performance art and even a “performance lecture” by a leading theologian. This resulted in a dramatic and poignant portrait of a place where Mexican migrants cross a searing land, monks seek spiritual purity, soldiers wage battle and students stage revolution… the many deserts within the desert. The show at the Echo Club featured legendary alternative folk figure Victoria Williams (founder of Sweet Relief), internationally recognized performance artist Elia Arce, comedian/playwright/activist Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, and author and Loyola Marymount University theologian Douglas Burton-Christie.

Variedades, as does the Urban Desert Cabaret, pays special tribute to the powerful art scene that’s taken root in recent years in Joshua Tree—a Mojave desert destination long popular with Angelenos. Angelenos are certainly obsessed with the desert. Sometimes we even say that we live in it. (We don’t—you have to cross over the mountains to get to it.) It is certainly our escape-landscape, a screen upon which to project all kinds of desires and fears, and a real, physical place to inhabit. (In the 1990s and first decade of the new millennium, the Desert West saw the fastest population growth of any region in the country.)

As long as people have been traveling to the desert, artists have been representing it. The desert is a recurring character in both the Old and New Testaments. It is the setting for the American passion play of the Western. These days it is often the mise-en-scène for narco noir and neo-nativist politics—Arizona’s SB 1070, an electrified “border wall.”

VARIEDADES is inspired by the Mexican Vaudeville Shows in 1920’s Los Angeles in which Martínez’s grandparents were regular performers.  VARIEDADES v.4 approaches this vast, contradictory space the same way previous themes had been approached (migration, the drug war, anarchy): with artists of different genres and generations bringing passion and humor, pathos and spectacle to illuminate the theme.  The original four part series, performed last year, was made possible by a generous grant from the Material World Foundation ( and Liz Garo and The Echo.

A native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, Rubén Martínez holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. An author and a veteran journalist, he won an Emmy Award for his work in public television. As a musician, he has collaborated with the likes of The Roches, Los Illegals, Ersi Arvizu, and Marisoul Hernandez. (From: )

Everything Miz Meliz

What is in Your Diaper Bag, Baby?

Here is a question for those of you with babies. . .

“What’s in your diaper bag?”

You may be asking yourself, why does she want to know this – her kids are teenagers!??

That’s it exactly!  My kids are way, way, way out of diapers and well on their way out of high school and I am out of touch on the new stuff for babies.  When I get invited to a baby shower, I have no idea what a new parent wants or needs.  Most of the stuff I thought was cool when I had babies has been replaced by newer products.  But, I wonder, are they better?

I asked my friend at work, Jeff Beam, a few questions.  Jeff’s beautiful wife, Kelly, had just given birth to their baby girl, Lynnox, a few weeks prior.  I had a lovely conversation with this sleep-deprived first time father on his first week back to work.  He gave me some insightful, however sleepy, answers.

MM:  What were your first impressions of becoming a parent?

JB:  I was blissfully ignorant.  I felt ready, for sure.  I thought, “this really isn’t that bad, my baby is great!”  Then, the sleep deprivation set in.  I went from thinking; this is magic to what the hell is happening?

MM:  Have you found any baby item particularly helpful or useful at this point?

JB:  We were given a small backpack with compartments from the hospital, a good supply of diapers and a changing pad.  So far, that has been very helpful.

MM:  What is your favorite gift you have received for baby? 

JB:  For me, it’s the Boppy.  We use it constantly.

MM:  They still have those?  I loved mine!

JB:  It’s great!  We also received a rocking chair that is perfect for Kelly.  She sits in it as she is breastfeeding.  My wife’s comfort is most important.

MM:  What is the best piece of advice you received when you were expecting that has proved to be most helpful?

JB:  I can’t remember right now, everything is foggy!  But my friends have told me that taking care of a baby is easy.  When they cry, they need something.  It is like I am putting together a puzzle.  It’s just a matter of figuring out which piece of the puzzle I am missing.

MM:  Do you have any advice, based on your experience so far, to give to other new parents?

JB:  Always have a change of clothes and plenty of diapers! (MM – for those “explosions!” Right!  I’ll never forget that!)  To new fathers, I would tell them what I do is remember my responsibility is my wife.  Making sure Kelly is okay is my job.  We are a tag team.  I am ready to step in.  Take the time off and stay home from work for those first few weeks.

MM:  Is there anything you need now, other than sleep?

JB:  We could use some help with meals, we are both exhausted and too tired to cook!

My (unofficial) advice to Jeff. . . if you think you are too tired to cook now – wait until you have three teenagers!!!  Seriously, have you heard of ordering in?  It’s great!

Officially, it was an honor to talk to Jeff.  He was in love with fatherhood.  He was in love with baby Lynnox and most importantly, even more in love with his wife.  He is a wonderful father (and diaper changer!)

I was glad to hear that The Boppy is still a favorite for new parents.  It is a great product.  Way better than using a pillow.  That’s what we did back in the day, you know.  When my nephew was born, he was the first grandchild and there hadn’t been a baby in the family for about 15 years.  We all passed that child around on a pillow like he was going to break if we touched him!  It was symbolic because he was precious and we cherished those moments.  It was useful because a baby needs to be propped up and cushioned.  They are hard to hold on to at all times.  The Boppy helps and is comfortable for the adult as well as the baby.

I used my Boppy for feeding and holding my babies when they were very little.  They come in cute designs.  Mine was black and white.  That was big back then.  Now they have them in pretty patterns or you can get a plain one and they have slip covers you can buy separately.  I went to The Boppy website and found they have lots of products besides just the pillow and you can order online.  The prices range from $19.99 for a slip cover to $44.99 for a travel pillow.  They also have those cute play gyms and mats that are a great and useful gift for $24.99 – $74.99.

There are many new products and some variations of the standard product and all are useful and make terrific gifts.  My favorite is and always will be The Original Boppy.  Every family should have one!  In fact, I wish I had one now.  I would still use it!  It could be helpful for my aching back!  Seriously, I was very impressed that The Boppy company thinks everyone should have a Boppy, too.  And they are doing something to make that happen.  They have a goal of donating $20,000 worth of Boppy® Pillows to moms in need with Nurse-Family Partnership.

In case you haven’t guessed . . . if you invite me to your baby shower, you’re getting a Boppy!

This article was written as a Guest Post on Stuff Parents Need

by Melissa Reyes

May 7, 2012