All posts by thunderboltfan

Would you pay $13 a month for LA Times online subscription?

LA Times has unveiled their new  eEdition, “a reproduction of the print edition– online” for $12.99 per month.  Considering that I just got a year of 7-day home delivery of the actual print edition for $75, or $6.25 per month, and they are offering print subscribers the online subscription at no extra cost, I’m wondering what the strategery is here.

Access to its archives is one thing LAT is offering as part of the deal, and they are also touting that it’s available at 5:30 AM everyday, unlike the online edition, which is available the preceding midnight, contains much more news and, um, it’s free– for now.

I guess this is a first step (and trial balloon) for the online paid subscription model we’ve been hearing about from other newpapers in dire straits– which means the vast majority of them.

As a side note, is streaming Inventing LA, the recent doc about the Chandlers and the LA Times. Worth a look.

Will smoking be cool again?

smokingiscoolWhen Smoking Was Cool, an art exhibit opening at Black Maria Gallery on Saturday, takes on “the American propensity for legislating social behavior,” in this case, using ever-rising tobacco taxes as a jumping-off point.

While the exhibit will take note of the movement to define certain social behaviors as taboo, whether it’s smoking, drinking alcohol or easygoing attitudes about sex, its aim will be to examine the hidden motives and powerful interests behind the politics of social legislation.

Sam Saghatelian, curator of the exhibition and a participating artist, says in the press release, “The point is that government and corporate interests often single out targets for the legislation of social behavior because it’s politically and financially expedient to do so, and not necessarily for the wellbeing of the public as they claim.”

Featured artists include Paul Chatem, The Pizz, Shark Toof, Anthony Ausgang, Sarah Stephens, Stacy Lande, Christine Karas-Gough, Shannon Keller, Brett Manning and Harry Sudman

When Smoking Was Cool opens Saturday, Oct. 17th, artists reception from 7 to 10 PM; exhibit runs through Nov. 14th. Black Maria Gallery, 3137 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90039.

Lennon in LA

Today would have been John Lennon’s 69th birthday. His time spent in Los Angeles in the early 1970s is well-documented:

In June 1973 in New York, his wife, Yoko Ono, pushed for a separation and said he should take May Pang, their personal assistant, as his boy-toy while they reassessed their marriage.

Lennon and Pang in LA, 1974
Lennon and Pang in LA, 1974

In quick order, Lennon moved to LA with Pang and flung himself into what has become known as his “Lost Weekend,” an eighteen-month period during which he caroused, recorded some middling material, caroused, reconnected with Paul and Ringo, caroused– you get the picture.

From a rented home in the Hollywood Hills, Lennon lived out loud and large in public places in Los Angeles, making a drunken, coke-fueled spectacle of himself with stars and players of the day. When confronted by the press with criticism, he said, “So it was a mistake, but Hell, I’m human.”

Shortly thereafter, Lennon cleaned up his act.  He and Yoko reunited (in NYC, backstage after Lennon’s cameo during an Elton John concert) into renewed matrimonial bliss, had a son together, Sean, and lived a happy family life in relative seclusion at the Dakota until that fateful, sad night in December 1980 when Lennon’s fame tragically caught up with him.

From where we are with sexual politics in the early 21st century, maybe some wisdom can be gleaned from the way the Lennons openly navigated their relationship in the 1970s and the way it was received. Little public pillorying of John, no tearful media statements from Yoko, no desperate extortion attempts from lurking opportunists due to needlessly keeping secrets about the bumps in a relationship’s road, no knee-jerk accusations about employer/employee dalliances from self-appointed know-it-all scolds.

Just honesty about how a particular marriage of interest was going; forthrightness about monogamy and the lack thereof occasionally as a reality check; and not a speck of shame, contrived or otherwise, from anyone involved.


Cool night, cool jazz at LACMA tonight

LACMA jazz1Is this the first cool-weather Friday this fall? With the drop in temperature and the shortening daylight, it seems perfect for (symbolically, anyway) shaking off summer’s heat by stopping by LACMA’s outdoor Friday Night Jazz event this evening, tucked behind Chris Burden’s glowing Urban Light sculpture. This weekly free-admission series finishes its season November 6th.

Tonight, violinist Lesa Terry, music director of the Women’s Jazz Orchestra and Women’s Jazz Quartet, leads an ensemble drawn from the LA jazz scene.

Lesa Terry & Friends, 6 PM tonight at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire (at Fairfax) Los Angeles 90036. Free admission.

Bratton on east vs. west

LAPD Chief Bill Bratton’s dissatisfactions with the way things run in Los Angeles, compared to Boston and New York where he was also police chief prior to his tenure here, have been known. And in some respects, there is no love lost for him over his departure at the end of this month. (Yes, his last day on the job in LA is Halloween.)

Yesterday he laid out east vs. west complaints at Los Angeles Magazine’s regular Breakfast Conversation confab at the Foundry restaurant on Melrose.

East Coast, it’s much more in your face, bloody the nose and then go and have a drink. Here it’s basically, don’t have it out and hold a grudge and try to undermine each other at every turn. I don’t know whether that’s the ethos of the movie industry that’s now basically going into the rest of the society out here.

My style is basically, fight it out, get it done and move on… Life is too short, get it over with, instead of this lingering payback.

This city is almost a city that doesn’t work in so many respects and it’s frustrating. The New York minute – the reason that phrase is so appropriate for New York, things get done.

Audio excerpts were aired this morning on KPCC by Frank Stoltze on Morning Edition. A video of the entire event is on LA Mag’s site.

Ed Ruscha on LA’s duality

"I think I'll..." by Ed Ruscha, on loan to the White House.
"I think I'll..." by Ed Ruscha, on loan to the White House.

Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha is one of several artists whose work is hanging in the Obama White House, according to today’s NY Times. Museums in Washington DC have loaned the works.

A luminary in the early years of the LA art scene in the 1960s (and a towering international figure ever since,) Ruscha’s work draws on imagery from the urban landscape of  southern California, although in a recent interview, for London’s Daily Telegraph, he’s of two minds about the city where he’s made his home since 1956.

‘It puzzles me that people can come to Los Angeles and actually get excited about it.’ But he also admits, a little grudgingly, that there is a ‘certain neurotic anxiety’ about the city that nourishes him. ‘It’s oily about the edges,’ he explains. ‘It’s gritty, but at the same time it promises something. I don’t know what, the fountain of youth, maybe.’

And then later, reflecting on his decision to move to LA from where he grew up in Oklahoma, ”’It had an irresistible flavor to it that drew me out here. California had sunlight and jazz… It was all glamorous to me, the life of an artist. It had its high moments, the only thing it didn’t promise you was a living. But I was 18 years old, so that wasn’t scary. It didn’t matter.’’

Punk rock Shakespeare

GodsavegertrudeGod Save Gertrude, a punk rock musical take on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, opens this Saturday at The Theater at Boston Court in Pasadena.

Borrowing from Shakespeare for musical theater (and just about every other creative pursuit) is nothing new of course; it has spawned iconic shows like West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet,) Kiss Me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew) and The Lion King (Hamlet.) Further afield musically, in 1957 Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn composed Such Sweet Thunder, a jazz suite that draws on the Bard’s plays, characters and sonnets.

Deborah Stein, God Save Gertrude’s playwright, and David Hanbury, composer, continue the tradition, employing punk’s sensibilities to offer an updated portrayal of the Danish prince Hamlet from the point of view of his pilloried mother, Queen Gertrude– against a backdrop of some things that never change: corruption, betrayal and revenge in the halls of power.

God Save Gertrude previews through Friday Oct. 9, opens Saturday, Oct. 10th, runs through Nov. 8th. At Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 North Mentor (between Colorado and Union) Pasadena CA 91106. Detailed information here.

Multi-gallery exhibit returns to Barnsdall

edenlogoBeyond Eden, the second annual multi-gallery exhibit celebrating contemporary art in Los Angeles, will return to Barnsdall Park in Los Feliz this weekend, October 9 through 11.

Last year, when the event was called East of Eden, it was a collaboration between galleries in Silver Lake, Atwater Village and points east, focusing attention on spaces that were outside of the  West Side “white box” circuit in sensibility and price range. Their place in the art world hierarchy is crucial as a proving ground for new, young talent as well as for new collectors not swimming in money but eager to get their feet wet in the collecting world.

Three thousand people showed up for the three-day event last fall, held in Barnsdall’s cavernous Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Owing to its success, this time the EOE organizers opted for an evolved name and roster of galleries, drawing on those flung across Los Angeles, including La Luz de Jesus, Subliminal Projects, Black Maria, Synchronicity Space, Billy Shire Fine Arts, LeBasse Projects, Crewest and others.

Friday evening is invitation only, but Saturday’s MOCA’s membership drive event at 7 PM and the opening gala starting at 8 PM are both free and open to the public. An “artists village” will include artists who will be “live painting;” PUMA Project will be doing on-site screen printing; and Cannibal Flower will present performance art. Continue reading Multi-gallery exhibit returns to Barnsdall

Rutten on American Apparel firings

As a follow up to my post about American Apparel having little choice but to comply with the Obama administration’s order forcing employers to fire undocumented workers, I want to call attention to Tim Rutten’s opinion column in today’s LA Times.

Rutten speaks to the questionable humanity of the new procedure to deal with illegal immigration that will do nothing to provide the underlying necessity, an overhaul of immigration policy. In fact, as the new procedure eliminates the raids and deportations of the past, it will add to an ongoing one: unscrupulous companies that will hire, underpay, overwork and mistreat displaced workers to save a buck.

The administration seems to be choosing the lesser of two evils here, allowing undocumented workers to remain in the US, assumedly so they can act on getting  legal, rather than deportation. In the interim, they will have to deal with finding a  way to survive and support their families.

Rutten quotes one of the fired American Apparel’s workers here in Los Angeles who says he will “go back to one of those sweatshops where I’m going to have to get paid under the table.”

There will still be those of the Neanderthal “too bad–should have stayed in Mexico” mindset who will remain unmoved, but if they take the time to read Rutten’s column, at least they can’t say they never were confronted by the concept of compassion and its glaring necessity as a component of reform.

American Apparel will fire 1800 undocumented workers

American Apparel will fire “about 1800 workers in coming days– more than a quarter of its workforce” in Los Angeles, according to an article that appeared on the NY Times site minutes ago.

The firings are a result of the Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration by forcing companies to fire undocumented workers instead of staging workplace raids.

According to the article, the investigation of American Apparel began 17 months ago under President George W. Bush, but has become regarded by the the Obama administration as a “showcase” for its work to reduce illegal immigration.

24 free museums this weekend

CAFAMThis weekend will be a good time to explore a museum that’s on your cultural to-do list, or to discover one you weren’t aware of, thanks to the straightforwardly named Museum Marketing Roundtable, an organization formed by museum marketing professionals in the LA metro area.

Twenty-four museums in Los Angeles and surrounding areas will offer free admission this Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th. Some will participate on both days, while others will offer free admission on only one of the days. Check for details.

Some of the museums in LA offering the deal are MOCA, Autry National Center, California African American Museum, CA Science Center, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Fowler and Hammer Museums at UCLA, Museum of Latin American Art, Natural History Museum of LA County, Paley Center for Media and the Skirball; as well as the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

The most tempting for me? Myth and Manpower: Graphics and the California Dream, at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (across Wilshire from LACMA,) looks at the role of graphic design to “communicate ideas and shape human behavior” vis à vis “myths surrounding the Golden State.”

Rockaway Records celebrates 30th anniversary

rockawayRockaway Records, tucked behind Silver Lake Wine on Glendale, will celebrate their 30th anniversary tomorrow, Sunday, with a parking lot sale from 10 AM to 4 PM where they will be selling CDs for 99 cents, while in the store from 10 AM to 7 PM, vinyl, CDs, DVDs and books will be discounted up to 75% off.

One of the ways Rockaway survived is by transforming itself into a memorabilia mecca. I got a Peter Tork T-shirt there for $5 a few years ago, but you can spend thousands on rare vinyl and artifacts if you’re so inclined. As a nod to this sustaining tactic, they will have a drawing tomorrow to give away a rare, Beatles Yesterday and Today “butcher” cover LP.

Also, check out Randy Lewis’s article about Rockaway in Thursday’s LA Times, chronicling the ups and downs of the indie music store as it dodged bullets and stayed afloat in the face of diving CD sales and, before that, encroaching music megastores (like Virgin and Tower) that initially were a threat– only to outlive them as they bit the dust one by one.

Rockaway Records, 2395 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles 90039

Conan O’Brien falls during taping

Conan O’Brien fell during the taping of his show today at Universal Studios, hitting the back of his head as he was performing a skit with guest Terri Hatcher. O’Brien walked off the set, returned, then left again. A  short while later, announcer Andy Richter announced that the remainder of the taping was being canceled, saying Conan was “up and walking around” but was going to see a doctor “just to be sure he’s okay.”

I was in the studio audience for the taping.

Pet Shop Boys play the Greek

PSB:GreekAh, the ’80s; for better or worse, the decade that wouldn’t die. In music, fashion, art and maybe even the ongoing political/culture wars forged in the age of Reagan, it all still (somehow) seems fresh and relevant. Perhaps it was the last time that anything truly new happened and subsequent generations are stuck in a cultural quicksand not of their making. Lucky things.

Pet Shop Boys, the London synth pop duo formed in 1981 by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, have skipped across the past three decades, attentive to the changes around them and assimilating, assimilating, assimilating.

Their Pandemonium tour landed at the Greek Theater last night and unfurled a dizzy-making list of references, sometimes within a single song. Continue reading Pet Shop Boys play the Greek

Culture crash

ScionselfportraitScion, the Toyota automobile brand based in Torrance, aims its vehicles at hipsters and those who fancy themselves as such. During a recession, I don’t know if hipsters have more money to spend than other demographics, but they love an open bar.

This Saturday evening they’ll find one at Scion Space, the car company’s Culver City gallery where Installation Five, an exhibition of artist self-portraits, opens. It’s the last stop in a cross country tour (in its fifth year) that started in Detroit and traveled to Miami, Phoenix, Minneapolis, New York, San Jose, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon before rolling into Los Angeles this weekend.

The roster of artists, most of them drawn from the design and illustration world, includes many who are from or based in Los Angeles. (List after jump.)

The self-portraits will be auctioned, at the gallery as well as online (at,) beginning September 12th to benefit Creative Capitol, a non-profit arts philanthropy started in 1999 that funds  “artists pursuing adventurous and imaginative work in the performing and visual arts, film/video, innovative literature, and emerging fields,” according to its website. Continue reading Culture crash