Ah, to be Young, Talented and Castrated: Musical farce at REDCAT

There’s a beautifully surreal moment in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive when Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts slip into an ornate theater in downtown LA and watch a diva lip-syncing to a Spanish-language rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.”

I think I may have just had that experience. Well, minus the lip-syncing. And the Orbison tune. And the lipstick lesbians. Crap. Can I just start over?

No, the show must go on! And so you too should go see Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes production of the late Jorge Kuri’s musical farce Monsters and Prodigies: the History of the Castrati at downtown’s REDCAT. This is the Los Angeles premiere of the Mexican company’s performance that has traveled around the world since debuting in 2000 in Spain. Only three performances remain–tonight and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.–and you’ll be sorry if you miss it.

Why? Because where else can you see a centaur grappling with his intellectualism (Miguel Ángel López), a slave that treats his body like an amusement park (Kaveh Parmas), argumentative Siamese-twin barbers/surgeons (Raúl Román and Gastón Yanes) whose specialty is the cruelest cut or Napoleon Bonaparte himself (Luis Fernando Villegas) astride a real-life Andalusion stallion?

The Spanish-language production (don’t worry, there are subtitles) also offers hilarious physical comedy, some beautiful falsetto performances by Javier Medina and a fascinating history of the castrati phenomenon in Opera that will have you rushing to Wikipedia to find out how much of it is actually true.

Images courtesy of REDCAT.

Classic P’tard – blocks the sole handicap spots egress point

Dude, you drove right up and missed the lettering in the painted over walkway for the handicap access that said “no parking”.  You even missed the “no parking” sign on the door right in front of you.  I’m still amazed you did the “no speak english” stuff when I pointed the sign to you.  I guess you were so busy with your phone conversation on your cell you didn’t notice that I HEARD YOU SPEAKING ENGLISH.  Why oh why, when there are 35 other spots in that lot open did you have to park blocking the egress of the sole handicap space in the lot?  

Pic grabbed with the trusty cell cam.  It does get bigger with a click.

Carl’s Fine Films’ Loveletter to Trader Joe’s

Picture 1.jpgI don’t entirely follow the logic of this, but after attempting to shoot a photo of one of Trader Joe’s ubiquitous hand-chalked signs and being shooed off by a manager, director Carl Willat of Carl’s Fine Films was inspired to shoot this charming short “commercial” in praise of all the things you never realized you loved about TJ’s.

Of course, Willat’s store is in SF, but it’s a testament to the quirky nature that the company carefully cultivates that most experienced TJ’s shoppers will relate intimately with Willat’s paean regardless of what location they frequent. Especially the part about tiny parking lots (I’m looking at you, 3rd and La Brea). And while they may be busy rolling out wasabi cashews and $2 wine in all kinds of new locales, let’s not forget that TJ’s started life as an LA-based convenience store chain called Pronto Markets. In fact, the first store to open under the name “Trader Joe’s” is still in operation on Pasadena’s Arroyo Parkway!

How safe is your Peanut Butter product?

LA based (OK, El Segundo) Fresh and Easy Market has a nifty sign proclaiming their stuff is safe and never had anything from the tainted manufacturer.   In recent days the list has expanded.  Whole Foods Paycheck and Monrovia based Trader Joe’s have more than a couple of items on the recall list due to salmonella poisoning.  The current outbreak has been noted as the cause of several deaths across the country including at least one in CA.

For more details you can check the official FDA Peanut Butter Recall site, or download their PDF Direct.

Pic grabbed by me with the trusty cell phone cam a short bit ago.

Eric Garcetti Twitters. Do You Follow?

As we witness the beginning of a new American government that is more connected with its people than ever, and a President who said Yes I Will! keep my Blackberry, it’s interesting to see the connectivity trend on a local level with L.A. politicians.

Eric Garcetti, the Man Who Should be Mayor of Los Angeles, is arguably the best example of this. He’s connected. He wants to communicate with his fellow Angelenos. So, he Twitters. Not like Villaraigosa, who has his staff Twittering to collect Facebook friends. Eric Twitters to tell us WHAT HE’S DOING.

A few tweets from EG:

Yum yum banana pudding from Delilah Bakery. Now what to eat for dinner before heading back to work? about 17 hours ago from web

Voting to abolish city’s bicycle licensing fee. Go free biking! 11:38 AM Jan 27th from TwitterBerry

Calling in graffiti–them taggers sure like rainy weekend days for some reason. 1:24 PM Jan 25th from web

He lets you know that he’s working. Trying to get the little things done that make this a better city for all of us. While at the same time, reminding you that he’s just like us. Because everyone likes pudding.

We All Need Someone We Can Lean On

Back in the days of yore when four-head VCRs were the shit and cassette tapes were still the height of transportable audio technology, I was home late one night after watching an episode of “Hill Street Blues” that I’d successfully taped (after several failed attempts), and at the very end before the tape went to snow, a PSA came on that was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen on TV. On the screen was a picture of a phone sitting there on a table and ringing repeatedly. I was riveted in wonder until a solemn voice asked “Who’ll be there to help if there’s no one to answer?” And immediately afterward the screen went black and the words “Volunteer With The Suicide Prevention Center” appeared above its phone number.

The next day I called and said “I’ll answer that phone” and after that went to an orientation and then committed to the intense months-long training involved. Upon completion I began fulfilling my obligation of one six-hour shift per week. The SPC is now in Culver City and part of the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, but when it was a sole entity it used to be located in Koreatown a block east of Vermont, on the first block south of Olympic in a long-since-gone Victorian that had been previously owned by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks on a ranch-type property that was bordered by Alvarado and Vermont to the east and west, and Olympic and Pico to the north and south. Must’ve been amazing. But I digress.

The old mansion had become a combination halfway house/methadone clinic with the Suicide Prevention Center located in a couple first-floor rooms in the back. As a “crisis counselor” I took all sorts of calls. People with pills either in their hands or in their systems. People with knives, razors, guns, open windows and long falls. But the vast majority were people depressed, sincerely bumming for any number of reasons, and just needed a nonjudgmental ear to hear them and offer empathy and assistance. We even had long-time regulars who were allotted a few minutes each week to call and chat. My regular was a lady who asked for me because she liked the sound of my voice. We’d catch up with each other for a minute or two and then she’d bust out with the heavy breathing and the sexy talk and I’d politely conclude the call.

Regardless of the call or caller the first question is always “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” You didn’t fuck around with that phrase. There was no “Are you feeling bad?” or “Are you thinking of committing suicide?” or “hurting yourself?” We always got those two words — KILLING YOURSELF — right out in the open. Bam.

Continue reading We All Need Someone We Can Lean On

Help save the Semi Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract!

This lot would be a steep vacant slope (like near the new HOME Restaurant) if the developer's<br /> plans go through.
This park-like lot would be come a steep vacant slope (like next to the new HOME Restaurant) if the developer's plans go through.

Good friend and great neighbor Diane Edwardson is tireless in her efforts to fight developers who want to bulldoze Silver Lake’s natural beauty in favor of bloated clumps of crap housing.

Four years of fighting the developer of the Semi Tropical Spiritualists’ Tract and we’re headed to an appeal hearing with PLUM at City Council next Tuesday.

The plateau (photo) along with the downslope (to the right in the photo) containing California black walnut woodland within the Semi Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract will be eradicated if a developer’s plan to subdivide and sell a 16-lot subdivision (15 homes and one “open space lot”) gains final approval by the City Council.

The developer led the community to believe we would be gaining the upper plateau as open space, accessible to the public. However, the developer’s grading plan calls for the removal of the entire upper plateau and slope below containing a thriving California black walnut woodland.

If you can, please turn up at the hearing to voice your displeasure:

Tues Feb 3, 2009
City Hall, Room 350

City Council File: CF-09-0082
APCE 2006-8787-ZC
VTT 62900-SL-2A

Help save LA’s underground radio, killradio.org

In the winter of 2000, I was working as an art teacher in Sherman Oaks when a co-worker asked me if I wanted to attend a meeting with her at a pirate radio station. “They’re giving away radio shows,” she said, and when I demurred that I didn’t know how to DJ, she told me they’d teach me how. I thought for a second, and despite the fact that I’m pretty shy & tend to not throw myself into work situations with strangers, I decided to give it a shot. It was an uncharacteristic decision.

It changed the course of my entire life.

Joining killradio.org, an online radio station with a sometimes-pirate terrestrial broadcast, brought me into contact with people I never would have met in a million years: anarchists, eco-punks, jazz poets, Bollywood-music geeks, Black Bloc-ers, traveling minstrels, bike messengers, indie DJs, Food Not Bombs chefs, radicals and militant members of movements that prioritized the democratization of media outlets. It was the first move that sparked a series of cascading events in my life that… Continue reading Help save LA’s underground radio, killradio.org

Check Yul Head: “Westworld” at the Aero

Beta's a Bitch. Yul Brynner in "Westworld." Film stills courtesy of The American Cinematheque.
Before preserving his DNA in that big piece of amber in the sky, author Michael Crichton left us with plenty of bubblegum to smack on. Crichton is best known as the author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park and for creating the television series ER, but my favorite creation of his was always Westworld, the 1973 film he wrote and directed about the ultimate staycation “where nothing can go worng.” (sic) The American Cinematheque is screening the film as a double feature with The Lost World: Jurassic Park this Friday at the Aero Theater at 7:30 p.m.

In Westworld, Crichton takes the basic premise of Philip K. Dick’s 1966 novelette We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (later turned into the Paul Verhoeven-directed Total Recall) but replaces Mars with the Wild West and implanted memories with an elaborate theme park populated by androids programmed to please — be it sexually or by letting visitors blow them away in a gunfight. Richard Benjamin and James Brolin star as two city slickers who sign up for a weekend of simulated danger, but it’s Yul Brynner’s pre-Terminator portrayal as an unflinching robotic killer that steals the show.

Photo: Beta’s a Bitch. Yul Brynner in Westworld. Film stills courtesy of The American Cinematheque.

Win Michael Franti Tickets Right Here, Right Now!

What are you doing this Saturday night, the last night of January?  Well if you want to get your groove on you’ll be at Club Nokia vibin’ to Michael Franti & Spearhead.

His sound is super cool and he has miles of soul.  Also on the bill are the Solillaquists of Sound who combine hip-hop with jazz and electronica.  If that weren’t enough, the amazing dancehall queen/songstress Cherine Anderson, from Jamaica will be rounding out the gig.

As a recession special we’re giving away four pairs of tickets.  Just tell us why you deserve free tickets and the best four stories win!

PS:  Make sure you use your legit email when you sign in so we can get the tickets to you!  And if you don’t happen to win, but want to experience this fab show go here to buy tickets.


Reason #77 why I love LA

My brother Mark lives in St Louis.  He sent me a pic on his cell phone showing his patio with 8 1/2 friggen inches of snow on top of ice.  They expect temps in the low teens tonight.  What do I do?  I snap I pic of my patio thermometer as a response.  LA makes it possible to always one-up somebody who does not live here and feel good about it.

Mark Ryden Signs at MOCA on Saturday

I joined MOCA for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is their BCAM collection, but this post isn’t about that.

This post is about a book signing there this Saturday from 1-3pm.

Mark Ryden will be at MOCA signing copies of his newest release The Tree Show (2009), a hardcover collection of recent works. Through paintings and sculpture inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s tales of transformation in Metamorphoses, Ryden explores the mythological and transformative properties of trees, offering familiar preoccupations in new settings. MOCA members receive a 10% discount on the publication.

In addition, Silence (2008), a framed 24 x 18-inch limited-edition silkscreen will be available for purchase, with all proceeds benefiting MOCA. This print was commissioned by the MOCA Projects Council, a major support group comprised of women collectors and patrons of the arts.

INFO 213/621-1710

Please note:
Ryden will only sign copies of The Tree Show purchased from the MOCA Store (proof of purchase required) on a first come, first served basis. Due to high demand, early arrival is recommended; the signing will end promptly at 5pm.

The galleries at MOCA Grand Avenue will be closed to the public January 26 through February 14, 2009, for the installation of Dan Graham: Beyond.

Take a bite of Dee’s Nuts

Chalk up one more reason for vegans in LA to be psyched as all hell. We now get to stuff our mouths with Dee’s Nuts. I was recently tipped off that my favorite coffeeshop in LA was now carrying vegan donuts, which led to to the discovery of Dee’s. I rushed over to check it out but unfortunately there were none there when I arrived (and the cashier didn’t know anything about it) but Dee’s does list many places where you can find them now, and a few places they’ll be in soon so I’ll default to that for the time being. Since I haven’t tried them yet I can’t make any comparisons to the great vegan pastries I’ve had in other cities like Sticky Fingers, Vegan Treats or Mighty O, but the photos look damn amazing and they even do mail order. So there you have it. As soon as I see Dee’s Nuts in person, I’m grabbing a handful.

Designer Shoes & Gourmet Chocolates

I have been spending a great deal of time in Manhattan Beach for work purposes.  At first, I’d just get to my meetings and leave as soon as possible because the commute was so dreadful and I wanted to get it over with quickly.  But on my final two days I decided to be far more relaxed and actually take in the admittedly darling little ocean town.

On my way to fetch some coffee yesterday, I froze while standing before one storefront in utter awe.  That swiftly melted into frustration when I realized it was too early for me to worship in the temple of genius.

Designer shoes and gourmet chocolates.

It was total brilliance with a side of awesome sauce.

Someone needs to do this in Hollywood only I’d like to request that you design the store to look like a turn of the century bordello.  If I’m going to commit to an excessive experience, I want to go all the way.