I Like My Films Black Just Like My Coffee

Fans of film noir have two great series opportunities coming up–the first at the Egyptian and the second at the Academy.

Starting Friday 2 April and running through Sunday the 18th, the Egyptian is collaborating with the Film Noir Foundation on the 12th Noir City festival. There are 25 films in the festival and none is available on DVD. Highlights include the noir classic New York Confidential (with Anne Bancroft–how is this not on DVD?!) and, for sheer novelty, the 2009 Eve’s Necklace, shot with a cast comprised entirely of mannequins. Daniel Erickson, the director (not a mannequin), will be present for a q&a after the screening of Eve’s Necklace.

For those who favor the genre’s classics, beginning 10 May, the Academy will be screening fifteen noir staples, all nominated for an Oscar in the writing category, most Monday nights running through 30 August. Because you can’t see Mildred Pierce or The Killers too many times can you? A “noir cartoon” and, beginning 24 May, an episode of the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel will precede each movie. And get this, you can get a pass for all fifteen screenings for $30. That’s some cheap culture people. I’ve got my pass.

Noirs-a-poppin’.

Turner Classic Movies Film Festival Comes to Los Angeles April 22-25

2001: A Space Odyssey. Image courtesy TCM

Turner Classic Movies is holding its first Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles from April 22-25. The recently published lineup of classic films is astonishing, including Casablanca, The Good, the Band and the Ugly, Some Like it Hot, The Producers, Sunset Blvd., 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Stunt Man, and more.  Also on the bill are panel discussions, receptions, and an introduction to North By Northwest by two of its stars, Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau.  Participating theaters include Grauman’s Chinese Theater, The Egyptian, and others.

Unfortunately, the admission price to the Festival may be prohibitive to many.  Passes covering four days of screenings and events currently run $ 499 or $ 599.  According to the Festival’s website, individual tickets are also available, although seating preference will be given to pass holders.  TCM informs me that individual tickets are in the $20 to $30 range, with 50 percent discounts for those with a valid student i.d.

Perhaps next year, TCM will sell cheaper (e.g., one-day) passes.  Meanwhile cable and satellite tv subscribers can play along on the home version: according to its schedule, TCM airs many of the films from the Festival on its cable channel, where the price of admission is your monthly bill.

Trader Joe’s Hits Hollywood

I’m giddy that a new Trader Joe’s is opening in Hollywood on the Corner of Selma and Vine (just below Sunset).  I’m not sure what that says about me…

I guess that I’m attached to their frozen french Gruyere pizzas and I like Pinot from Santa Ynez that is priced several bucks lower than other retail places.  Yes.  But I’m also impressed that they consistently get organic vegetables and fruit… by the same grower as Whole Foods, that is two dollars less! It doesn’t make sense to me because for the volume they do, Whole Foods should be able to get discount prices too,  yet over and over again, I find the same products at both stores with wildly lower prices at TJ’s.

In any case, I’m excited that in two weeks or so I can roll down the hill and get my market tasks done in the hood!  Yay!  The revitalization of Hollywood is working!

Win Tickets to RJD2 Next Week!

Something you should know about me: I am not cool. Really. And I say that with no pretense or obfuscatorily self-aggrandizing goal whatsoever; I’m not doing that thing where I claim not to be cool, but then reveal some morsel of personal datum that indicates that I am, in reality, extremely cool, and am only claiming to be uncool so I can deftly undermine any belief you, oh reader, have in your own coolness. I’m not going to say something like, “Oh, I’m so uncool! When I was calling Lady Gaga’s personal footwear designer from the green room of The Knitting Factory the other day, I realized I haven’t bought a new iPhone skin in almost a month!” See, I’m so uncool that I think that particular quote is an example of cutting-edge cool.

Seriously, you guys, I own Sliders on DVD. I order off the dollar menu at Wendy’s. The classiest socks I own are from Target. And most of the business cards that have been presented to me have, at some point, been used as vessels for carrying toenail clippings from the living room floor to the trash.

But I am from Philadelphia, which is one of those sneaky-cool cities that nobody really thinks about as a cool place because their coolness detectors are too distracted by obviously cool cities like New York and Vancouver. There are a few cities like this. Philly is a big one. I’m pretty sure St. Louis is one too. Also maybe Halifax.

Here’s how I know Philly is cool: It’s the current chosen home of RJD2, one of the world’s most awesome DJs. You may know RJ from the various commercials, TV shows and movies his music has appeared in; he’s one of the premier “oh, hey, this is that song in that one commercial!” musicians working today. But don’t pigeonhole him; RJD2 is also one of the most innovative and creative DJs in the country.

And, oh yeah, we’ve got a pair of tickets to go see him at the El Rey next week — Tuesday, April 6, to be exact.

How can you win these tickets? Simple: Just give me an example of how uncool you are. And I don’t mean ironic-hipster-uncool stuff, like drinking cheap shitty beer or liking obscure Russian literature. I’m talking Chef Boy-Ar-Dee straight out of the can. I’m talking collections of stuffed animals. I’m talking retainers.

So. Wow me, nerds. The most uncool commenter will win tickets to RJD2 (I’ll choose a winner by next Monday evening). And maybe some of his coolness will rub off on you.

SPCALA’s Hero Dog Nominations Due Wednesday

Miley, last year's winner

So, I totally totally totally should have told you guys about this earlier. But, hey, better late than never, right? (Nervous laughter)

But my tardiness and total lack of responsibility isn’t the point. The point is that there are hero dogs out there who need to be recognized, and the SPCALA is looking to recognize them. That’s why they’re calling for National Hero Dog nominations. So if you know a dog who committed a courageous act during 2009, give the SPCALA a call to nominate the little pooper.

Past winners include Taz, a German shepherd mix who ran for help after his owner fell off a cliff, breaking his pelvis; Shadow, another shepherd mix who saved his owner from a grizzly bear (!!!), and Miley, a terrier mix who roused her owner as carbon monoxide gas filled her home.

To be eligible, nominated dogs must be companion animals and not formally trained rescue or police dogs. If you’d like to nominate a dog you know, send a description in 100 words or less of the heroic act in question to [email protected] Here’s the hard part: Entries are due by the end of March 31.

Talents that will not be considered: Hilarious dream-induced whimpering and paw-twitching; butt-dragging; appearing in hilarious YouTube videos; running around to look at the back of the television when Animal Planet is on, just in case the television has magically become a window to a universe populated entirely by other dogs; genital self-moistening.

So get your entries in. Because hero dogs can’t nominate themselves. That would seem pretty crass.

Making the Grade

Last year I was finishing another great meal at Daikokuya, one of my favorite ramen joints in Little Tokyo, when I looked up to see a bright red “C” hanging in the front window.

Gulp.

Now I am no ratings snob. I’ve eaten at roadside shacks in rural Thailand. I’ve consumed sausage from a vending machine in Sweden, and I’ve knowingly dined at plenty of “B” establishments before. However, a “C” rated restaurant in Los Angeles? Never.

As soon as I got home that night I went straight to the Google. That’s where I found something that would continue to haunt me for the next few months: A database of Los Angeles County restaurant ratings, including the reasons for each score.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has a simple web site, lapublichealth.org/rating/, which allows you to search by restaurant or facility name, or you can search all of the restaurants in any given area.

“Information is power!” I thought. Feeling smug and empowered.

Once I found the database, I compulsively searched all of the restaurants that I dine at regularly. When that failed to reveal anything horrifying enough, I searched more. All of the restaurants in my zip code. All of the restaurants in the city. Scanning scores, looking for “C” ratings or below, obsessed with knowing why. Even when I found what I was looking for, I kept searching for more. I finally reached maximum overload when I Continue reading Making the Grade

Dave Hill at UCB Theatre Los Angeles this Thursday

This was in my inbox this morning and seemed very important:

Attention People of Los Angeles:

Hello. This is your man Dave Hill writing to you to let you know that this Thursday, April 1 at 9:30pm, I will be breaking out my brand new nightclub act/monologue/rock assault “Big in Japan,” the story of one man’s (me, Dave Hill, from before) undying will to rock, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre over there at 3919 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, Home of the Stars. If you have ever wanted to hear me speak publicly about my gigantic celebrity in Japan while also breaking out some face-melting guitar riffs on your ass, you have just hit a street called Easy because that is pretty much what goes on for a like a whole hour straight at this show. “Big in Japan” is the show that critics are already calling “a triumph of the human spirit,” “thrilling,” and “pretty much guaranteed to get Dave Hill a reasonable amount of intercourse free of charge.” So there. Please join me for this rare West Coast performance of it before I go back home, do some laundry, and then go perform it like a [email protected]#ker to the people of the United Kingdom for like a seriously long time this summer. It only costs five bucks and you will not get hit with anything. Also, I am going to buy everyone a Sea Breeze at the bar next door afterwards. Everyone likes those. Anyway, I really hope you can make it. You can get tickets right here.

[Thanks Xeni]

Weekend Fun For Grown-ups: Win Dan Band Tix!

Many of you are already familiar with The Dan Band, and have been looking forward to their next show. Even if the name doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve probably seen the Dan Band.

In addition to fairly regular concert appearances around southern California and frequent work on Jay Leno’s show(s,) The Dan Band has appeared in movies such as Old School, Starsky & Hutch, and The Hangover.

They’re mostly known for performing covers of songs originally recorded by female artists, in their own unique style with a liberal application of NSFWoYC (Not Safe For Work or Young Children) language.

While good, the video clips linked above don’t really do justice to the live spectacle that is The Dan Band. Luckily, Dan and the boys will be returning to Club Nokia at LA Live this Friday, April 2 and thanks to our friends at Goldenvoice, I’ve got several pairs of tickets for you, dear readers.

Follow me past the jump to find out how to win your tickets, and see a live video clip of The Dan Band from a recent show at Club Nokia… Continue reading Weekend Fun For Grown-ups: Win Dan Band Tix!

Reopening The Book On A Chapter Of L.A.’s History

A couple years ago while organizing the IAAL•MAF’s second “Watts Happening” bike ride to the Watts Towers and back, I decided to history things up a bit with stops along the way at places of significance and interest, such as the childhood home of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ralph Bunche, the Central Avenue Jazz District, and the former site of Wrigley Stadium. Another place we visited was 4115 S. Central Avenue, the location of what once was the headquarters of the L.A. chapter of the Black Panthers and the site where an infamous five-hour shootout took place between the LAPD and members of the party on December 9, 1969:

The LAPD deployed its new SWAT team, a warrant, a battering ram, helicopters, a tank, trucks, dynamite, and 400 police officers to raid three L.A. Black Panther Party facilities including the Central Avenue headquarters. The raid bore much similarity to the raid against the Chicago BPP led four days prior by the FBI and Chicago police. For instance, the government’s plan called for the police to focus gunfire at chapter leader Geronimo Pratt’s bed; however, Pratt was sleeping on the floor at the time. But whereas the Chicago raid ended with Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark murdered, the L.A. Panthers, under Geronimo Pratt’s leadership, stood their ground. Only after exchanging fire with the police for five hours did the Panthers surrender, alive.

— Excerpted  from the Hartford Web Publishing Archives

It’s a violent episode of our city’s history of which you don’t find much mention but surprise surprise, while biking to work this morning through Culver City past the Culver Plaza Movie Theaters on Washington Boulevard, I happened to look over my shoulder and a title on the marquee caught my eye: “41st & Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers.”

As fate and timing would have it the new documentary by Gregory Everett opens there tonight, and I just wanted to pass along that it runs through April 1, presented by the Pan African Film & Arts Festival. If I can’t find the time to check it out on the big screen I’m certainly going to be looking for the film on DVD!

“To Protect And Serve,” mural depicting the Black Panther Party
by Nona Olabisi at Jefferson & 11th Avenue
One of a whole bunch of murals we’ll see on my walk tomorrow.

Congrats to Our Coachella Ticket Winners!

Big yay for Jack B. of Temecula and Kika D. of Sherman Oaks. The two of them each won a pair of tickets to Coachella!

Thank you’s go to Goldenvoice for the tickets, and to everyone who wrote in to recommend their friends or who tweeted at us. Your enthusiasm will be remembered in subsequent contests.   :)

Photo of Girl Talk live @ Coachella '09 by vonlohmann on flickr via a Creative Commons license

Weekend Fun For The Kids and Win The Chipmunks!

I think the kids will know what I’m talking about, but I hope I won’t lose all credibility with the music-savvy adults when I admit that one of the early records (yes, it was an LP. I’m old.) that I absolutely loved was Urban Chipmunk. It was 1981 and the Chipmunks did an album of country covers, a la Urban Cowboy.

Well, it’s nearly 30 years later, Alvin & the boys don’t seem to have aged a bit, and their career is flourishing. Perhaps you’ve heard of their latest flick, The Squeakquel? It’s made nearly half a billion dollars at the box office (worldwide.) Read on for a chance at your very own copy of the dvd.

Saturday afternoon there will be a dance party at the Glendale Galleria to celebrate the release of the dvd next week. USC dancers will be giving instruction on the dance moves from the movie, there will be an arts & crafts table, and lots of free giveaways. Take the kids; they’ll love it. After transferring hundreds of millions of dollars from parents’ pockets to studio coffers, there must be something to this.

What: Chipmunks Dance Party
Where: Glendale Galleria – JC Penney Court
When: Saturday, 27 March, 11am-5pm

Now for the free dvd…
The Chipmunks have done a country album, punk, Christmas tunes. For your chance to win a dvd copy of The Squeakquel, leave a note in the comments telling me which artist/genre the ‘Munks should cover next. I’ll start by saying I’d like to hear them do an album of Motörhead songs. Contest ends Sunday at 6:00pm pdt; winner notified via email sometime after that.

Dear Los Angeles Times: Blow This!

I know times are tough and sold ad space is sold ad space, but did you really have to run the Stihl ad on page 16 of the front section of today’s paper? You know, the one partially pictured at right that among a whole passel of fossil-fueled devices features a certifiably badass leafblowing dude sporting the latest in righteous gas-powered leafblower technology beneath the headline “This Spring I Want Something Lightweight” (and to which I answer “Try a fucking rake, blowhard.”).

The reason I ask isn’t because of anything wrong with Stihl, just the primary subject matter of this specific ad because for the last 12 years or so there’s apparently been something you folks there in your downtown bunker might not have heard about known as a citywide ban on gas-powered leafblower use or more officially “Los Angeles City Municipal Code 112.04(c),” which nutshelled says: “Gas powered blowers cannot be used within 500 feet of a residence at anytime.”

See the problems with the devices are myriad: they make a whole mess of noise pollution, and while making all that noise they’re also creating a bunch of air pollutions what with the harmful emissions they shit and all the particulate matter they push off the ground and into the air. Overall it’s a lose/lose but it appears a lack of prevailing wisdom on the subject (or maybe you knew and just don’t give a crap) allowed you to shill for Stihl, and having done so you gotta know that a whole bunch of yard-warrior homeowners are gonna go grab them some of that anti-green goodness and start using it on any given Saturday or Sunday morning, probably around 10 a.m. Hopefully they’ll all live next door to wherever you all get up in the morning.

You see where I’m going with this? Yeah: NOT a very conscientious, connected decision there, guys. Not by a longshot. In fact if there was a Lame Hall Of Fame, I’d nominate you for the Way Out Of Touch category. So in an effort to help you help yourselves and your paper from looking so idiotic in the future, after the jump I’ve put together a quick list of other things your ad sales department might want to just say no to, no matter how much money that four-color half-pager might bring in. It’s far from complete and some of the subjects you’re probably familiar with, but it should give you a place of responsibility and integrity from which to start:

Continue reading Dear Los Angeles Times: Blow This!

Run Out of Things to Protest?

Satan in a Tuxedo used through Creative Commons License

Karl Rove will be appearing at the Thousand Oaks Borders Monday at noon to sign his memoir.

Rove, perhaps most recognizable for his recent role as Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush, also counts among his accomplishments campaigning for George Sr.; being instrumental in the successful campaigns of John Ashcroft, Phil Gramm, and several other men of equal moral fiber; working for FOX News; and consulting for Phillip Morris. In short, were Satan running for public office, there’s a good chance Karl would be handing out press kits or designing tee-shirts

Rove’s book, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, was released this month by Simon and Schuster’s imprint Threshold Editions, publisher of other insightful political titles like Obama Zombies and Have You Seen My Country Lately. (Mary Matalin is the Chief Editor.) Feh.