I’m not one of those Angelinos who will claim that our literary culture rivals that of New York (sorry people, it just doesn’t–we can still love LA and concede secondary status on pizza and publishers). Nonetheless, we do have a pretty vibrant community of writers and readers. I’ve written about Chaparral and What Books Press here before, and I’m always happy to see news of a new journal or press.
On that note, The Rattling Wall is set to launch this month, and the inaugural issue looks delightful with offerings from Albert Reyes, Tony Hoagland, James Frey, and Neal Pollack, among others. They’re having a release party at the Hammer a week from tomorrow. If Hoagland were reading, I’d be there in a heartbeat, but alas he is not. Nonetheless,the slate is full of talent: Joseph Mattson, Michelle Meyering, James Greer, Neal Pollack, Allison Burnett, Stacey Waite, Eloise Klein Healy, Sam Dunn, Matthew Zapruder, Lou Mathews. It should be a great reading.
Tonight kicks off the Cinespia’s “Vive L’amour” series, co-sponsored by the Film and TV Office of the French Embassy in Los Angeles, and presented at the Cinefamily (Silent Movie Theater). In tonight’s cinematic bon-bon, Catherine Deneuve stars in Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the musical story of a sweet, young shop girl and her starcrossed love for a mechanic.
After the movie, a curated selection of vintage scopitones will be screened, and the Frenchie food truck will be on hand serving up appropriate fare, throughout the night . Later in the series Cinespia will screen Beauty and the Beast, Jules and Jim, and Amelie among others. (Some films screen on Saturdays.)
As if that’s not enough, tonight at the Egyptian is a double feature of Goddard’s Contempt and Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player. Formidable!
Finally, on a non-French note, while I’m posting about fantastique cinema, I feel the need to give a shout out to the Aero for their Valentine’s Day weekend schedule: Gone With the Wind Saturday the 12th, Casablanca and Double Indemnity the 13th, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Valentine’s Day itself. That is one inspired line-up, Aero.
Thank you, L.A., for being so cinematically awesome. J’taime.
The Hammer Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary with 20 days of free admission. The celebration began on Black Friday and continues through December 18, which is more than 20 days, but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth? Admission is usually $7 for adults. I hope to hit the Hammer and help celebrate this milestone during the next couple of weeks.
When I conjure the list of people I believe epitomize L.A. in some sense, Jonathan Gold and Bret Easton Ellis are both on that list, but together? Talking? I admit I hadn’t really considered that. When I saw that the Hammer has them in conversation this Tuesday (tomorrow), I just had to pass it along to you all. I myself am busy or I’d go just because I love L.A., and Gold and Ellis are utterly paradigmatic of the city, each in his own way.
Can you imagine the conversation?
JG: You know, that story about kids snorting coke all night and prostituting themselves reminds me of this amazing coq au vin I had at this little French place on the Westside last month.
BEE: Speaking of cock, let me tell you about the novel I’m working on now…
Seriously, it’s bound to be a great night. (It’s like the sequel to Hank Moody’s stolen novel; this one’s called Fucking and Lunching.)
Plus, the Hammer events are free, and there’s cheap parking ($3) right underneath the building. If only the gelato place up the street, Piccomolo, hadn’t closed it would be like a perfect evening. Have fun b.la-ers. Let me know how it is.
One of the things that interests me is the border between “art” and pop culture or art and commerce. I love graffiti art and DIY music and I think House on the Rock is far more impressive than Taliesin (yes, I’ve done some time in Wisconsin). I’m no canon-defender; I’ve read my Bourdieu, and I understand the social construction of taste and how that reinforces economic class. But sometimes I think L.A. goes too far in our efforts to appear avante garde or iconoclastic and we just end up looking silly. I submit to you this description of an upcoming screening at the Hammer Museum:
Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World documents the amazing life journey of California artist Don Ed Hardy (b. 1945), who decided at age 10 to be a tattoo artist. After receiving a classical art education with Asian influences, he went on to initiate tattooing’s unprecedented global popularity. Hardy combined sophisticated work on skin with painting, printmaking, writing, publishing, and curatorial work. The film puts this in context with the Ed Hardy lifestyle brand that has saturated the world. (2009, 75 min. Dir: Emiko Omori)
And here is the description of the Hammer Museum’s mission from their website:
The Hammer Museum explores the capacity of art to impact and illuminate our lives. Through its collections, exhibitions and programs, the Hammer examines the depth and diversity of artistic expression through the centuries with a special emphasis on art of our time. At the core of the Hammer’s mission is the recognition that artists play a crucial role in all aspects of human experience. The Hammer advances UCLA’s mission by contributing to the intellectual life of the University and the world beyond.
Last night I went to see The Third Man at the Hammer and I was reminded of just what a fabulous film it is and how great it is to live in a city where you can watch classic and arthouse films on the big screen. So I’m sorry–you missed The Third Man, but there are still a half dozen other movies yet to screen in the “Footsteps and Fog” British noir series. Friday there are a pair of trucker noir movies, The Long Haul and Hell Drivers. Saturday’s offerings include The Clouded Yellow, a movie described as having “echoes of Gaslight,” as well as The October Man. And Monday finishes the series with The Noose and No Orchids for Miss Blandish, which Monthly Film Bulletin called “the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism to be shown on a cinema screen.” I’m in.
And if you’re hungry for more Brit films with fog, the double feature on Halloween looks promising: The City of the Dead and The Skull. Satanic conspiracies, Marquis de Sade’s skull, witch burnings…what more do you need for a happy Halloween?
Yes, I know it’s raining and that means a stay-at-home night for some number of residents who harbor an overwhelming fear of precipitation. For those of you among the more adventurous, however, this is a great literary night. Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and more recently of Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, is giving a talk at the Central Library, and noir genius James Ellroy is presenting and signing his new novel, Blood’s a Rover, at Skylight. If that just whets your literary appetite, there’s more wordy goodness on Thursday when Wallace Shawn, who cowrote My Dinner with Andre and has just authored Essays, a book which promises to be more exciting than its title, talks with Bruce Wagner at Hammer and Jane Smiley signs her latest, her first novel for young readers, The Georges and the Jewels, at Borders Northridge. I admit I’m a first line fetishist, and Smiley’s novel satisfies. It begins like this, “Sometimes when you fall off your horse, you just don’t want to get right back on.” Amen, Jane.
Last weekend, drawn by the promise of Munch and Gauguin, I visited Gouge, the Hammer’s current exhibit on woodcuts. If you’re looking for something to do this holiday weekend, I say, go to Gouge. It exceeded my expectations. In addition to those “fine art” woodcuts I was anticipating by Gauguin and Munch (and Kandinsky, Matisse, and Vallotton among others), there were woodcuts with a religious theme and a nice sampling of activist woodcuts.
Among my favorites were Joseph Váchal’s Seven Deadly Sins (they are so cute–they look like Pokemon sins) and Artemio Rodriguez’s The Triumph of Death which is one of the large amazing political pieces. Other Rodriguez fans may be happy to know that next weekend, La Mano, the press Rodriguez helped to found, is having it’s annual art sale: December 5-7, 1749 N. Main Street.
Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of hearing Meghan Daum and Nina Revoyr read at the Hammer, and I’m compelled to break my bloggy silence to recommend both of their books to folks looking for “summer reading” (whatever that is). Those who know me, know my general recommendation for summer reading is Moby Dick, but if you’ve already tackled that, you may want to check out Daum and/or Revoyr.
I admit that I went specifically to hear Ms. Daum whose name you may know from her LA Times column or one of her two books, My Misspent Youth, an essay collection, or Quality of Life Report, her novel. This time, she read from a work in progress, a book about buying a house in 2004, at the height of the housing insanity in LA. More on both Daum and Revoyr after the break.