Remembrances of an LA past: Nick Ebeling's 'Earthquake Weather' exhibition and novel will shake you!

The filmmaker and artist now adds writer to his resume and in the process, takes his readers on a journey through a Los Angeles that may be gone, but definitely isn't forgotten, both in cinema and in our collective subconscious.
Remembrances of an LA past: Nick Ebeling's 'Earthquake Weather' exhibition and novel will shake you!

I first met Nick Ebeling and his producer Sheri Timmons in Venice, when his documentary about Dennis Hopper screened in the festival. Along for the Ride is a fascinating and fun to watch look inside the mind and filmmaking genius of Hopper, through the eyes of Ebeling but also the Hollywood actor/director/producer's best friend and production assistant Satya de la Manitou. I interviewed the pair during La Biennale for the HuffPost and got to wear the poncho Hopper wore in The Last Film for a photo with the duo.

Now fast forward seven years, a pandemic and many life changing occurrences later and Ebeling is once again on my radar, for his creativity and ability to reinvent himself. He's an artist through and through, just like he is a Los Angelino through and through. And both those qualities make him someone to watch.

We're very lucky to have a video, exclusive to MIME, of Ebeling walking us through his exhibition 'Earthquake Weather' currently at the These Days Gallery in Los Angeles until May 13th. The show is a kind of accompaniment to his book, Earthquake Weather, just published by Hat & Beard Press, a publishing house which focuses on "original, illustrated nonfiction books of pop-cultural and historical significance that draw on existing cult audiences."

In his author's statement Ebeling explains his inspiration for writing the book, his first novel:

"Earthquake Weather is very close to me.

In 2001, I was studying film at an art school in Los Angeles. I was being trained in Super 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film, which were in serious trouble. Digital video had swept in overnight and threatened what had been the industry standard since the dawn of Hollywood. Computers were replacing film splicers for editing at breakneck speed. I didn't even own a computer then, nor did I care about owning one. I was chasing cheap rent on the Eastside, and my life was unfolding like one of the neo-noir films I was studying.

I was also heavily into music, and it wasn't easy to find the kind of films or records I wanted. The Internet did not yet serve up the top Criterion art house picks or the old Punk, Post-Punk, Britpop, Krautrock, 70s Dub Reggae, Garage Rock, or UK Indie-Rock obscurities that fed my soul. I drifted through endless gigs, dug in dusty, pretentious video stores, and met up with strange people (some from other countries) to take my place with the outsiders. You had to exchange guarded information and draw that crucial line in the sand if you wanted to be an artist. Those outsiders became my friends and shared my sensibilities. They ran cables to 10ks, loaded film in cameras, and checked the audio levels when I began to make my own films.

"Bleak, generic apartments with windows barred to keep its residents safe from The Night Stalker, The Manson Family, The Grim Sleeper, The Golden State Killer, or whomever the next devil in the City of Angeles may be." -- 'Earthquake Weather', the exhibit.

The title Earthquake Weather comes from Joe Strummer's enigmatic first solo album, which had been deleted and discontinued by his label almost a decade before. It had a helluva sleeve, with Strummer standing on a diving board against a Robby Muller-style sunset, and I identified with that visual. While writing, I revisited many of the places I had known then and others that evoked my feelings of those days. I brought along my 35mm Nikon and took black and white photos as a visual diary. I selected a few dozen to accompany the text. The city has changed since then, but the unkempt palm trees, the bars on sad apartment complex windows, and the beat-up cars on the streets remain, if you know where to look."

While the gallery explains his companion exhibition in perfect tones of LA:

"Sunburnt, beat-up palm trees silhouetted against fire season sunsets.

Big, dented cars, uninsured, with bald tires, and overdue parking tickets. A reflective sunscreen in the windshield struggling to save the dash from a sun that never stops shining."

It continues: "Bleak, generic apartments with windows barred to keep its residents safe from The Night Stalker, The Manson Family, The Grim Sleeper, The Golden State Killer, or whomever the next devil in the City of Angeles may be.

This is the Los Angeles that acts as the backdrop for Nick Ebeling’s late-1990s autobiographical adventures detailed in his first novel, Earthquake Weather (Hat & Beard Press, 2023). These banalities aren’t the images of Los Angeles that Manifest Destiny’s true believers conjure when imaging Los Angeles. However, if you are a child of its endless freeways, born and raised in its smog and traffic, what may seem grim to the transplant can be a familiar and even comforting nuance to an Angeleno’s origin story.

While writing, Ebeling revisited a side of L.A. that in many ways does not exist now in the way that he knew it then, but still evoked memories of being in art school. He took a 35mm camera on these outings, which captured a kind of visual diary that helped him reconnect with that time in his life.

These images, presented as groupings, triptychs, and single images make up this exhibition. They are accompanied by a projection of a short film titled Suburban Kid, that Ebeling had initiated in the late 90s, during the time period in which the novel is set, but abandoned then recently rediscovered and completed. Earthquake Weather is an artist’s memories of being a young artist on the point of personal change in a city at a time rapid cultural change."

While I have yet to read the fascinating book which awaits me, I know from Ebeling's walk-through on video that he is once again talking my language. The language of memory and senses which unites us as fellow human beings -- no matter where we come from or where we live.

For more info on the exhibit, check out the gallery's website. And to purchase the book, check out Hat & Beard Press.

All images courtesy of © Nick Ebeling, used with permission.

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