There May Be Two Different Michael Jackson Stars On The Walk Of Fame, But There’s No Mistaking Where Thriller Was Filmed

Hat-tip to The Eastsider L.A. who hat-tips the film location-locating folks at the iamnotastalker blog for their October 2008 post showcasing the Boyle Heights street where the landmark music video’s zombie dance sequence was filmed, such as this scene in a really craptastic screencapture of the YouTube version:


Somewhat surprisingly the place — according to iamnotastalker and also Google’s Street View perspective — hasn’t changed all that much in 26 years:

upaMichael Jackson danced here.

The video can be viewed here. The location is in the vicinity of 3701 E. Union Pacific Avenue, Los Angeles, 90023 (map).

The continuing saga of the LAPD/Hummer/Cyclist situation

If that title means nothing to you, read these two posts for the background. There have been ongoing investigations and more and more questions from city officials about this, and over on WSBS Alex has been documenting each step of the way. In his newest post, he discusses how it seems LAPD superiors are defending reports by officers without looking into them at all which, when the initial reports are full of problems doesn’t help LAPD relations with, well, anyone.

Is it possible that a Commander and a Captain have been hoodwinked by a prejudiced officer? I think that it is. More and more as I attend these hearings I get the sense that the officers are dispatched to City Hall to report on incidents they have no prior knowledge of. It seems to be LAPD policy that these officers defend LAPD’s actions at any cost, sacrificing their personal integrity for that of the LAPD, so that LAPD can remain independent. In essence, they’re fed to the wolves.

The specific detail covered in his post is testimony from Captain Allen claiming that after reading the report he was sure the Hummer involved in the accident had plates. Cyclists involved have argued since the beginning that the lack of plates on the vehicle is what initially set things off after the driver hit a cyclists and witnesses weren’t able to get a plate number so decided to try to keep it there until police arrived. Photos from the incident, taken by witnesses confirm the lack of plates on the Hummer at the time.

Cranks, Cams and Computers: tonight!!

Tonight at GLAD (Greater L.A. Agency on Deafness – 2222 Laverna Avenue, Eagle Rock, CA 90041) there will be all kinds of mechanical music making taking place. Jim Bumgardner tipped me off to this as he’ll be showing off his musical chess set up along with a handful of other folks. There will be installations and performances and sometimes performing installations. Starting around 6pm you can get in to check out the set up and the action begins around 8. It’s $10 to get in for the general public, or $5 is you happen to be a NewTown and Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Member. Which some of you very well might be. More event infos on Facebook and Upcoming.

Destiny Disrupted (even more ALOUD)

muslim_constitution_religionIt feels like I’m spending my life at the library nowadays. There are surely many far worse fates. The LA Central Library’s ALOUD series of free lectures continues to attract me back, with an ever fascinating array of guests.  Last week, I had seen Walter Kirn speak on his book Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever.  That was an enjoyable program, and Kirn is extremely personable; but for this post, I will comment on last night’s talk with Tamim Ansary, who was presented and interviewed by Amir Hussain (a co-presentation of ALOUD and The Center for Global Understanding).  The title of Ansary’s book matches his talk: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes.

Of all the talks I have heard at ALOUD, I found Ansary to be the most engaged and fascinating speaker to date. Continue reading Destiny Disrupted (even more ALOUD)

Michael Jackson’s tigers?

mjtigersNo, I don’t know Tippi Hedren, but this just showed up in my inbox. I guess we should expect all kinds of weirdness over the next few days.

Chal – Michael Jackson’s Tigers Thriller and Sabu – Tippi Hedren

Fr: Tippi Hedren

Re: Michael Jackson

We have so suddenly lost one of the most beautiful and enchanting entertainers on our planet.  Michael Jackson was not only loved by the people of the world, for his incomparable talent, he was loved by the magnificent wild animals for which he provided the most beautiful home at his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA.  We were thrilled to have Michael’s beloved tigers, Thriller and Sabu, join our pride here at Shambala when Michael needed a good home for them. Thriller and Sabu will always remind us of Michael.

—With Love, Tippi (Hedren) and the wild ones.

In addition – For those of you who wish to remember Michael and animals in a special way, perhaps you might consider honoring Michael with a donation to the ROAR foundation ( in the name of Thriller and Sabu.

Photo Caption: Michael Jackson’s beloved Tigers, Thriller and Sabu, living out their lives at the Shambala Preserve, Acton CA

Not Too Late: LA Film Fest In Westwood

Majestic Crest in Westwood by Jodi

I’m just getting around to posting something about this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which is now more than halfway over. Considering that most of the films play more than once, there is still an opportunity to see many (potentially) great movies. There are also repeat screening being added along the last four days of the fest.

For the past three years, Film Independent‘s LA Film Festival has played for 11 days toward the end of June in Westwood. Screenings occur in the many theaters located right in the village and expand over to other locations outside of the village, such as The Landmark on Pico at Westwood Blvd.

I had to scale back on my pass this year, so I’m seeing fewer films. In a way, I was  more selective because of that and have been pleased with everything I’ve seen so far. I’ve found that the descriptions that festival programmers write, especially at Sundance, are often misleading and you end up seeing a completely different movie. I haven’t experienced that this time around though. It seems like the documentary lineup is very strong this year, but I’m a doc junkie and mostly only see those.

King of Pop is Dead

images-1Wow.  Two icons in one day.  Michael Jackson died today after being rushed to the hospital here in Los Angeles in cardiac arrest.  When he arrived at the hospital, he wasn’t breathing and they couldn’t revive him.

What a shocker… probably more to him than us.  He was just days away from starting his big tour in London and given his penchant for eternal youth, something must have gone terribly wrong.  He forever changed music and really fueled the rise in music videos with his amazing performances.

He was a character. I’m gonna miss him.

Project Pushback marriage video contest names winner


This spring, the Gay and Lesbian Centers in Los Angeles and New York partnered to sponsor Project Pushback, a viral video competition aimed at changing public opinion to favor same-sex marriage.

Out of 68 entries from across the nation, a panel of judges chose eleven finalists. Yesterday the winner who will receive a $2500 grand prize was announced, a video entitled Family Values created by LA-based filmmaker Andrew Putschoegl.

“We received entries from across the country but most of them were from Los Angeles and New York, being film centers,” Thomas Soule, communications director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center told me. “The contest spurred people to get very creative in their approaches to changing hearts and minds about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

Soule also said some of the entries will be shown at Outfest, the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival held each July at the Directors Guild in Hollywood.

The videos are all polished and professional, running the gamut from testimonials from real people to vignettes written for actors. There’s even a Blair Witch Project parody, which won the $1000 People’s Choice prize. But my favorite is the one where the guy says– actually, I don’t want to give it away so you’ll have to watch it and see why. (It made me cry.)

Los Angeles-based judges included Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Milk); Rev. Art Cribbs Jr. of the San Marino Congregational Church; CA Assembly Member John A. Perez;  Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Outfest,; Judy Starkman, co-owner of and Emmy Award-winning director and producer Paris Barclay (In Treatment, Cold Case, The West Wing.)

View the eleven finalists here.

Farrah & Me

ffMy 8th grade Le Conte Junior High class picture is all feathered hair, a smile full of braces, and my favorite shirt, a pale blue tee with an iron-on of Farrah Fawcett’s iconic poster.

Farrah and I wouldn’t meet in person, until four years later in 1981. I was working at Hunter’s Books on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You folks would’ve loved Hunter’s. They had a smaller branch in Sherman Oaks, but the Beverly Hills store was the flagship. There was a loft-like upper floor for management overlooking a vast amount of always bustling floorspace surrounded by dark wood shelving, beneath which was the equally large stockroom — or “dungeon,” as we stockboys called it.

Being on Rodeo Drive, naturally the store drew a sophisticated and monied clientele, and more than a fair share of celebrities. Not to boast but I was a fave of Barbara Stanwyck who’d every other month or so would come to the backdoor and ask for me with a list — sometimes just for her, sometimes for her and her good friend Henry Fonda.

Continue reading Farrah & Me

NYT Covers Bourgie Industry Kids Playing Music, Smoking

Click to go to the NYT article.

I read this story in the NYT a few days ago, but it’s stayed in the back of my mind, accompanied by a weird distaste. The writer ID’s a “trend” among the children of Hollywood elites: playing music, having shows in each other’s luxe backyards, slumming at thrift stores for hipster threads.

Indie music has a long and storied history in Southern California…continuing today at popular all-age sites like the Smell in downtown Los Angeles and Pehrspace near Echo Park.

But to veterans of this scene and the latest crop of show-going kids, elements of the city’s music landscape have lately been skewing even younger and emanating from tonier enclaves, like Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Hancock Park.


Where is this animosity in me coming from? Am I just jealous of how these trust-fund kids can pursue their PBR wishes and record-crate dreams? Or am I annoyed because this doesn’t…seem…newsworthy?

When I was working in print, they’d say “Three makes a trend.” Writer Jennifer Bleyer definitely name-checks more than three Industry spawn: Tallulah Willis (of Bruce); “Keely Dowd, the daughter of Jeff Dowd, a producer on whom the Coen brothers based the main character of ‘The Big Lebowski,'”; apparently the girls from The Like all sprang from the loins of Industry (music and movie) players; and, oh yes, “Michael Shuman, the bassist for Queens of the Stone Age who went to Campbell Hall, is the son of Ira Shuman, a producer of ‘Night at the Museum’ and the new ‘Pink Panther’ films.

Bleyer tells a tale of a successful screenwriter who’s arranged for his son to continue his drum lessons during their summers in Italy. Which is great. Right? Good for him.

So why am I so annoyed? Am I just jealous? Should this article ever have been written? Haven’t the rich been indulging their kids’ dilettantisms for millenia? This isn’t a “trend.” This is business as usual.

I’m calling on the NYT to actually cover newsworthy scenes producing quality art–be it music or any other creative efflorescence–in LA. Stop going for the low-hanging fruit that only underscores your lack of familiarity with the cultural terrain. If this story even deserves to exist, it should have been about the music–not the pedigrees.

Farrah Fawcett Has Left Us

images1 Farrah Fawcett died this morning in Santa Monica after a long battle with cancer. She was a shining star, who, when she was on, blazed pretty hot. Best known as THE pin-up girl of the seventies in that red bathing suit, with her long, blonde tresses flowing, she captured many boys hearts for the decade. As a little girl, I remember every guy I knew had her poster up in their room.

On the television screen, she was the interesting one to watch in Charlie’s Angels, running around in the sexiest outfits possible, fighting crime with a wide smile and kitten-like sexiness. As girls, we all secretly wanted to be like her.

As an adult, I had an opportunity to work with her.  All my images of her as a vapid, blonde bombshell vanished the minute I met her.  She saw her powerful sexuality simply as a vehicle to ride to foster her work as an actress.  She was an artist to the core. Not only was she a really fine painter, but in her acting and even in controlling her image, she came from a place of creativity, deep vulnerability and rawness.

Her blonde hair and blazingly bright smile were an easy decoy which frequently made people miss the depth of her soul and what she had to say. Yes, she could be difficult and several times on the set I cursed her. However, there was always a reason that turned out to be justified for the delays and the end result was simply stunning.
When I heard she had cancer, I hoped she would beat it. She was an intensely determined woman and I thought she might sail through this one with grace.  Maybe the truth is…. she simply left this dimension for a place where Angels really do rule.  And no Charlie’s tell her what to do!