Monday, November 29, 2010

Seraph City on Designing Worlds...


Seraph City was recently featured on Designing World, highlighting the unique aspects of the city!  If you haven't had the opportunity to see it yet, please do take a moment to indulge!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dieselpunk Travels: SL Chicago, Roaring 20s Mobster RP


Dieselpunk and the 1920s Jazz era have certain iconic imagery which people recognize it by – flappers, jazz musicians, G-men, and of course, gangsters.  When I opened the Empire Jazz Club, I was frequently asked if there was any gangster or mobster RP in Seraph City.  Unfortunately, RP in Seraph City is minimal, and most gangster areas tended to be along the lines of “modern gangsters” (certainly not mobsters in the classic 1920s sense).


The mean streets of Chicago

However, a while back I learnedof a new sim which not only fit the Dieselpunk genre, but had a very involved 1920s gangster role play.  This sim was SL Chicago, the Roaring Twenties.


SL Chicago's Arrival Skybox - Providing the basis for the sim

SLChicago is a sim dedicated to the 1920s gangster genre.  This being said, an emphasis is placed on genre authenticity, as one learns when they arrive at the main arrival point in the sim.  In the arrival skybox, a number of things are very apparent.  First, the four main rules for the sim are laid out, mostly involving conduct and appearance in Chicago.


The gent's and ladies' dressing rooms (with gratis treads), 
and the TP point to Chicago

Once one reads the overall guidelines of the sim, changes into era attire, obtains a HUD for RP involvement, and joins the Roaring Chicago group, one can tp down to the sim.  The sim’s TPs itself provides a number of locations one can visit, all accessible through its menu.  Additionally, once on the sim itself, the TPs are easily located in phone booths – a nice touch.


Colosimo's Cafe - the local watering hole

The SL Chicago sim itself is a recreation of 1920’s Chicago (a logical deduction from the sim’s name).  However, though the sim was not built to “spec” (e.g. a separate builder was not hired to build the sim, per se – a number of builds were from “off the shelf” items, easily obtainable from the SL Exchange), the build is well crafted for its purpose.  Notable is not only its layout a grid (akin to RL Chicago), but the adverts are era specific and generously applied throughout the sim, adding to its genre authenticity.


The USMC recruiting office - 
the devil dogs are serving even in SL!

The main appeal of Chicago is its gangster Role Play (RP).  When Seraph City (SC) first opened, I was peppered with questions regarding any potential “gangster rp” in SC, to which I had to respond that there was none.  However, Roaring Chicago has taken up the challenge.  The rp itself is still fairly new, and is developing, but the Chicago participants have been quite gracious in offering to help individuals develop personas and delve into the gangster world.



The Chicago Trolley on its route (Not sure which color line this one is)

Another enjoyable aspect of Chicago is its city streets.  I played with the environmental editor to develop a “Film Noir” background, and believe that the outcomes were successful, but certainly enhanced by the attention to detail paid to the sim’s era appearance.  The “storyline” of the events taking place in Chicago are narrated via group notifications, almost akin to a breaking news story or era radio “interruption to normal programming”.  Even if one doesn’t regularly engage in rp, you’ll be kept up to date with ongoing events in Chicago.

Care to do a bit of manly exercise?...


... a fully competitive boxing ring is available!

I've barely touched the surface of Chicago, incluiding the Boom Boom Room, the hidden speakeasys, and the lawmen's headquarters!  So if you are interested in mobster role play from the 1920s to 1930s, the 1920s Roaring Chicago is not only your only bet, but in terms of RP, your best bet!  Do consider paying them a visit, at: http://slurl.com/secondlife/rich%20island/202/232/312/


Crime claims yet another victim...

Next review, I'll take a trolley to 1920s Chicago’s new Jazz club, the Fiume…


.... see you there!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The closing of the Sphynx Jazz Club...


Received a bit of bad news the other day... it appears that while serarching for a Jazz venue to visit, I discovered that the Sphynx Jazz Club has moved back to the Pharaohs, so to speak (yes, I do apologize for the pun)!  Seriously, the Sphynx Jazz Club was an outstanding build with an Egyptian theme.  Large, well built, and hosting numerous live performers, the Sphynx was a location with I enjoyed visiting with Breezy (as seen in the photos she has kindly provided).


Alas, it has been replaced with a country sim at the same coordinates, and my efforts to locate it have been unsuccessful.  As such, I have to assume the Sphynx is no longer, which is a shame, as it was an excellent Jazz venue.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jazz Venue Reviews: Charlie's Neighborhood Jazz Club


While hunting down  a locale to do a bit of dancing at, I stumbled upon Charlie's Neighborhood Jazz Club.  As the previous TPs for alternate locations were unsuccessful, I decided to throw caution to the wind and give Charlie's a try.  Turns out to have been a good choice!


First Impressions - Charlie's Neighborhood Jazz club is a two story build, with no lag, and well built, even if it has a unique layout.  It is two stories, but with the center area hollowed out, transit to the second level is quite easy.  It isn't overly busy, but it does get a fair amount of traffic based on its listing on SL's search.



Venue Appearance - Lots of posters, and a blue tiled dance floor in front of a stage are the key aspects of Charlie's build.  Plenty of additional artwork of reminiscent of Jazz performers, both in RL and SL.  I did like the tables and musical equipment, as they added to the atmosphere, as well as the bar tucked away on the side of the build.

I found s few things, such as the translator box on the middle of the dance floor a bit odd, but the dance animations were easily enough found, and there was plenty of space on the floor to dance nonetheless.  There were a couple of gaming tables (as seen below), as I believe the owner also runs a neighboring casino.


Atmosphere - Quiet and enjoyable.  No distractions, no 'sploder balls, no gimmicks - just a nice location to dance and listen to Jazz music.  There are a couple of adverts for in-world musicians, and a couple of tip-jars for the venue, but nothing imposing to interfere with your enjoyment.


Music - A key aspect that had a unique twist here.  I wasn't exactly certain of the feed to reference, but I did notice that there were SL Jazz musicians works included with the standard Jazz feeds.  A very nice touch to include "local" (e.g. SL) musicians with a good selection of Jazz music from RL - kudos!


Overall, would I come back? - Yes
A cozy build, comfortable surroundings, and an excellent selection of Jazz music make Charlie's Neighborhood Jazz club a must-visit when searching for a quiet location to enjoy good music and a bit of quiet time with you dancing partner.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jazz Venue Reviews: The Vault


The Vault is one of the more traveled era venues for the "classic" jazz route in Second Life.  Located on the Old Hollywood sim, it has a classic Art Deco build, and what nice is the surrounding area also has the era design to it (aka, yet more Art Deco).  In time I'll review the rest of the sim, but for now, The Vault is the main topic of discussion.


The interior of the Vault, including its stage

First Impressions - You'll arrive at the venue at its main revolving door, but its a phantom entrance, so you can just walk straight through.  The layout is square, with the main stage centered in the Club.  A bar is located to the left, and a shopping enterprise is directly to the right.  There are two dance areas on the upper floors as well - fairly spacious and secluded. 

Venue Appearance - The Vault has made an effort to tip its hat to the classic era of Jazz - more along the lines of the late 40's to early/mid 50s in appearance, reminding me of the Vegas clubs of the RL era.  It is spacious, nice areas to dance without being "on top" of other dancers.  The dance ball animations will take a moment to find, as they are on the back wall (one is red and sparkle-ly, but the other (couples animation) blends in somewhat with the photo of Mr. Martin).  The desisgn is a bit more on the late Diselpunk / Jazz era, I'd say it essentially abuts on the "Atomic Age" (mid to late 50s) in design.  Still, a well designed and built venue.


Dancing with Breezy at the Vault

Atmosphere - Bit of a mixed bag with this issue.  The host was cordial, and no membership offers were pushed upon me when I arrived, but as the venue appeals to a larger crowd, there is a larger cast of visitors, some a bit odd, who visit.  Regardless of my biases, the atmosphere was light-hearted, and there weren't constant requests to donate money to the venue or DJ, which was nice.  Plenty of banter, but I was able to enjoy a bit of privacy as well.  A refreshing change from the traditional larger clubs methodologies for raising money.  Though, do feel free to provide a little tip for Mr. Finchley - he's always on duty!

Music - Again, a bit of a dilemma.  When I originally arrived, the DJ was playing a set of Blues, but the selections tended to veer off from the regular music of the era.  I did become a bit annoyed at times that I switched to Pandora's Lionel Hampton feed.  However, the next DJ did play a very good, genre-accurate set of musical selections.  Still, I would have preferred more Jazz, though I assume a larger audience has to be addressed.  A listing of future performers would have been a nice touch.



More patrons during a performance at the Vault

Overall - Would I go back?  Yes.
I liked the area, atmosphere, and the early 50s look of the Vault.  I wasn't able to easily locate a notecard indicating what their future performances would be.  Still, if you are looking for a DP/Jazz era to spend a bit of time at, I would certainly recommend the Vault, though to take a peek to ensure the musical selections is what you wish to indulge in.  To pay a visit, please go to: http://slurl.com/secondlife/old%20hollywood/54/54/36/



The "Jungle Joint" in Old Hollywood - 
an excellent Streamline Moderne build

Additionally, do take a moment to step outside the Vault, and visit some of the unique Art Deco and Streamline Moderne works at the Old Hollywood sim.  Many of the stores are not from the era, but as the Chinese saying goes, "Business is Business, so you do what you have to do".  Do pay it a visit - it seems to be a work in progress, but it has very nice builds, such as the "Chat and Chew" hotdog stand, the Viva Kustoms store, and of course its iconic HOLLYWOOD sign!


Don't forget to say "Hello" to Mr. Finchley - he's a lonely fellow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hollywood links added to the blog...


A bit of inspiration struck for a future project, and such, I've added a blog listing of Classic Hollywood movies to SL Jazz After Midnight.  As such, having a link for a bit of inspiration is always a good thing!  I'll be adding the future reviews quite soon, including a new Jazz locale and a new genre sim.  Do keep in touch!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jazz Venue Reviews: The Harlow Jazz Speakeasy


I figured I'd start my reviews once again with one of my favorite Jazz era genre clubs, the Harlow Jazz Speakeasy.  Located on the same sim as the Cotton Club, it has been made to reflect the classic appearance of a Jazz club from the height of the Dieselpunk era (from about 1918 to 1939).  Located across the bridge from the main venue, the Harlow Jazz Speakeasy is, in my opinion, the real reason to visit this sim - here's why...


The entrance of the Speakeasy, where you'll likely be greeted by Miss Columbia.

First Impressions - The Harlow Jazz Speakeasy (HJS) is part of the Cuir's Cotton Club (CCC) complex, and is overshadwed by said venue.  The CCC is what one might call a "general purpose" club, with a variety of music, events, ect... - not too much in the way of Jazz music.  A bit towards the south east of the main venue, sits the Harlow Jazz Speakeasy, one of the best 1920's in Second Life.  Upon arrival you'll be facing the HJS's cigar girl, Miss Cocao Columbia, and to the right and left are ladies' clothing stores (ack)!  No lag, mostly because of the lack of traffic - which is a shame in one sense, at it is a gem, but a good thing, as one doesn't have to wade to a spot to dance.

Venue Appearance - Probably one of the best things of the HJC.  Done in a custom build, its Art Deco build is reminiscent of old Hollywood clubs.  Passing inside shows a compact but central dance floor, traditional "dinner chairs and tables" (yes, eating is academic in SL, but in the old RL 1920 I suppose they had to).  Nice lighting, a small stage with a graphic feed, and slowly rotating lights add to the jazz-era feel of the club.  The Harlow certainly has the feel of a Jazz club.


The Harlows' intimate dance floor.

Atmosphere - No gimmicks, just a nice place to enjoy classic 1920s Jazz music.  The two individuals on staff (Miss Columbia, the "cigar girl", and Mr. Valentino Oliveri, who seems to be perpetually playing the piano) never interrupt your stay, request money - they just allow you (and your companion, if one is with you) to enjoy the environs and music.

Music - The Harlow streams non-profit big band station, 891. KCEA, a California radio station that specializes in Big Band music.  They have a wide selection of choices and play excellent (and frequently unfamiliar selections) from the era.  KCEA actually takes requests (I have yet to try it, though), and their website has a listing of their specialty shows.  Interestingly enough, this station is run from the grounds of Menlo-Altherton High School, in Altherton, CA, by the local school district, which holds its FCC license since 1979.  For more information, please visit their website, at 89.1 KCEA - home of the big bands



Facing out the door, with the Champagne sofas on the wall.

Overall - Would I come back?  A vehement YES!  Though it doesn't get much traffic, it is a great place to relax, quite enough to enjoy the music and not be pestered with local chat, and usually clear of traffic, so it you (and your sweetie) wish to twist a few virtual toes, you can do so in peace.  Since discovering it, it has stayed in my top five picks for clubs.  To pay it a visit yourself, please follow this SLurl to the Harlow Jazz Speakeasy, at: http://slurl.com/secondlife/atlantic%20beach/207/95/22/

So that's my sight on this Juice-Joint -I'll see you next time!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How are the reviews going to be done here?......


I enjoy Jazz and going to SL Jazz clubs.  However, the selection of clubs in the virtual world is varied, from outstanding places to enjoy quality Jazz music to those that are worse than a waste of time.  Knowing what a Jazz venue to visit is a start, which is where the SL Jazz After Midnight (SL JAM) plays a part.  I usually wrangle my partner, Miss Breezy Carver into accompanying me to a variety of Jazz clubs during the weekends, allowing opportunities to visit new and established venues.


I do have my quirks and biases, just as everyone else, so I've tried to reach a somewhat even-handed rating scale. Originally, I gave "hard" numerical ratings for a venue, but after consideration, the real rating of an SL Jazz venue is "would I (or another visitor) come back to it"?  I'd assume that's the question that most everyone thinks - and I'll be adding my own two cents to the discussion...  Here are the criteria I use to see if I like a club ...


First Impressions – What is the club like at first arrival?  Is the build well done or is it poorly constructed?  Is it very laggy or minimally laggy?  What is the traffic listed as (which may affect the number of people on site)?  Does it seem like a good place to enjoy some Jazz?

Venue Appearance – What is the interior of the venue like (spacious, cramped, open air)?  How is the interior appearance (well designed, any specific genre, anything unique)?  Basically, is it a nice place to spend some time, or is the place a bit of a disappointment?

Atmosphere – Is the venue busy or empty?  Is the club exclusive to musical performances or are there other distraction (e.g. "sploder balls" or other things akin to that)?  Is there a mall area, and does it impinge on the the venue?   What is the management like – do the (never/occasionally/aggressively) ask for financial support?  Once you've arrived, can you enjoy some music in peace?

Music - Is it a Jazz club or does it just use the term as a draw?  What kind of music is played (modern Jazz, classic Jazz, smooth Jazz, ect…)?  Do they have live performances, or is it strictly a feed (aka “Martini in the Morning).  Basically, is it worth listening to the Jazz music or are you better off listening to Pandora?

Overall - The basic question remains, would I come back to the venue?  

Mind you, the reviews on the SL JAM are my express opinions, but I do hope that it'll either encourage you to try new locations, or encourage you to provide a counter point to my own perceptions of a location.  Regardless, thanks for stopping by, and I'll be looking forward to future visits!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dieselpunk Travelogue: The Pan Pacific Auditorium


The Pan Pacific Auditorium 

During my hunt for places in Second Life which are from the Dieselpunk (DP) genre, I came across the Pan Pacific Auditorium.  I had to smile as I immediately recognized the sleek lines of the Streamline Moderne architecture, but had admit, I knew very little about the Pan Pacific.


An evening view of the front facade of the Pan Pacific

The Real Life Pan Pacific was built in 1935, and located just north-west of Los Angeles.  It was a gigantic buiilding, over 100,000 square feet and able to hold 6,000 people at a time.  It was used for political events, car shows, circuses, conventions, and concerts.  Elvis Presley played at the Pan Pacific, and General Eisenhower gave a speech there a month prior to being elected president.  It remained a popular location until the Los Angeles Convention Center opened, which signaled the beginning of the end of the Pan Pacific.   Though it fell on hard times, it was placed on the list of National Historical Places Registry, but sadly burnt down 1989.  For more RL information, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-Pacific_Auditorium


Inside the Pan Pacific Auditorium - the "latest" cars on display!

The SL version, however, is quite alive and well.  Mr. Bixyl Shuftan, of the SL Newser, and up-and-coming SL news blog, was able to angle an interview with the owners of the Pan Pacific, Amxscott Hammill, who related some of the challenges involved with his original Pan Pacific build in There.com, his migration to SL, and accomplishing his dream of making the SL Pan Pacific Auditorium a reality.  To read Mr. Shuftan's article with Mr. Hammill, please turn to: http://slnewserplaces.blogspot.com/2010/09/pan-pacific-auditorium.html


The residential apartments of the Pan Pacific

In addition to their displays, the Pan Pacific also has a regular music schedule, with numerous performances taking place during the week.  Like its RL incarnation, there is plenty of space for the events, and for an up-to-date listing is available just outside the auditorium.


View of one of the floors of the Pan Pacific apartments

There are a good number of both apartment and kiosk (business) rental spaces available on the grounds of the Pan Pacific's sim.  A single store can be had for L$100/wk for 100 prims (which seems pretty reasonable), and the apartments are a tad more, but have an 800 prim allowance at a comparable price.  


Relaxing with Breezy in the Pan Pacific's Apartment Lobby

If you do have a chance, do consider visiting the Pan Pacific Auditorium.  They do have a dedicated website, which has further information regarding their shows and live events, which is located at: http://panpacificauditorium.yolasite.com/

Also, do take the opportunity to read SL Newser's article on the Pan Pacific, located at: http://slnewserplaces.blogspot.com/2010/09/pan-pacific-auditorium.html

Finally, if you wish to go there directly, just follow this SLurl...
http://slurl.com/secondlife/pan%20pacific%20island/126/107/23/