HARD LA Cancelled

In a confusing turn of events, HARD LA which was scheduled for July 17th has been cancelled. Initial reports were that is was being cancelled for “security concerns” which is generally vague code for “we didn’t sell enough tickets and need to cut our losses” but has now been changed to “postponement and magnification.” Basically the released statement is that the event is getting moved back to August when it will be bigger and better (yet no word if the bands booked for the July 17th version will still be on board) and at the same venue. Anyone who purchased tickets for the July 17th event will automatically get into the August version, and not to leave people totally stranded, DIE ANTWOORD will be playing on July 17th at the El Rey with a few of the other previously-booked-for-Hard-LA-acts, but tickets for that are being sold independently. Does this make sense to you yet? All I know is that I still won’t be in LA on the 17th which means I’m still going to miss Die Antwoord which means I’m still bummed.

‘Fabric,’ a play about of human trafficking and slavery; based on the 1995 El Monte story

Fifteen years ago in El Monte, California, law enforcement officials discovered 72 Thai nationals confined in an apartment complex ringed with barbed wire, lured to this country with promises of achieving the American dream. Under conditions of forced labor and slavery, some of the victims had been confined for as long as seven years. A seven-member Thai family led by a ringleader known as the notorious “Aunt Suni” was apprehended at the scene. The story made national and international headlines as the first case of modern-day slavery since the abolishment of slavery in the United States.

Written by Los Angeles playwright, Henry Ong, “Fabric” is the only known dramatization of the 1995 Thai garment workers’ slavery case. Company of Angels, Los Angeles’ oldest professional non-profit theater company, in association with the Thai Community Development Center (CDC), opened “Fabric” to sold-out audiences and standing ovations this past weekend.

Fabric is presented by Company of Angels, inside the Black Box at The Alexandria, 501 S. Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles, and will run through August 8. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Tickets at $20 can be purchased at www.companyofangels.org.

Founded in 1959 as an artists’ cooperative, Company of Angels recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, making it the oldest non-profit professional theater in Los Angeles. The theater produces works that reflect the diversity of Los Angeles and the issues the City faces.

Thai CDC was founded in 1994, one year before the El Monte slavery case, with a mission to advance the social and economic well being of low and moderate income Thais and other ethnic communities in the Greater Los Angeles. The issues of human trafficking and slavery are an integral part of Thai CDC’s work as a majority of trafficking cases involve Thai nationals.

by Henry Ong

Co-Directors: Marlene Forte and Tchia Casselle
Produced by Kila Kitu, Joyce Liu, Henry Ong & Deborah Geer
Assoc. Produced by Gregory Gately
Starring: *Jennifer Chang, *Feodor Chin, Jolene Kim, *Dian Kobayashi, Jully Lee, Rudy Marquez, *P.J. Marshall, Eddie Mui, *Diana Toshiko, Ben Wang, *Jeff Watson, *Andy Hamrick
*Member of Actors Equity Association

JULY 8 – AUGUST 8, 2010
Friday, Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 4:30pm
$20 General
$12 Students & Seniors
Box Office: (213) 489-3703 / [email protected]

Lighting Design: Christopher Singleton
Sound Designer: Dennis Yen
Stage Manager: Amelia Worfolk
Set Design: Luis Delgado

Company of Angels
inside The Black Box at The Alexandria
501 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Want to check it out, L.A. folks? 8Asians is doing a ticket giveaway on their site this week.

Meet Nino, The Kogi Family’s Badass Lil Bro

Hello, Nino.  Just a hot little orange Scion xD, right?


Previewed at the Las Vegas SEMA show and the LA Auto Show late last year, this little hot rod is officially called the Scion xD Mobile Kitchen.  Chef Roy calls it Nino; I’m giving it a full name: Kogi Kar Nino.  Kogi Kar Nino is a collaboration between Kogi and Scion, with full customization to exact specifications by MV Designz.  As you can see, it is indeed a mobile kitchen, all packed into a four door roadster.  It has everything, including the kitchen sink.  As I’ll explain below, Chef Roy is going to use this little guy as  a vehicle to serve food.  For free.

The backseat passenger is a kitchen sink.
The trunk pops open to reveal a grill.
The cutting board, of course.

Everything can be controlled by a remote smaller than a iPod Nano.  For you auto jocks, the full specs of the Scion concept car can be found here.

Chef Roy will be jetting around town in Nino soon to find “hungry people” and feed them.  What sorts of hungry people?  “Just anyone,” he said.  “I’ll just drive, see where I end up, pull over, and just start making food.”  That means you can’t stalk Nino on Twitter, or anywhere else; it will be just luck of the draw for all of us.  But when we do find him/he finds us, there is a major jackpot: it will all be free.  That’s right.  Free.  You don’t even need to sign up for a mailing list in exchange – there are no strings attached.  Why?  It’s not like Chef Roy or his Korean-food-with-a-giant-twist needs the publicity.  With all due respect to the other food trucks out there, queueing theory hits a wall when Kogi enters the picture.  Even when parked along the same street as other trucks (i.e., 9th and Hope), people bypass the little-to-no lines at the other trucks to wait in a long line at Kogi.  And Chego is busy every night it’s open.

It would seem, then, that Chef Roy is just doing this more on principle than anything else.  He wants to use Nino to push the boundaries a bit, as parents often do with their youngest offspring.  He pointed out that the current culinary trend  appears to be “going back to the old school stuff” like curing your own bacon and grinding your own meat.  He’s bucking the movement in favor of “looking into the future” and seeing where he can take this idea of a kitchen packed into a four-door hatchback.   Why re-re-invent the wheel when you can invent new ones?  Especially when your new wheels are super hot.

Vietnam Evening At Traveler’s Bookcase On Wednesday 7/14

Always wanted to travel to Vietnam but your budget doesn’t quite allow it right now? Here’s an event to fulfill your appetite, at least for a night.

Traveler’s Bookcase is having an evening dedicated to Vietnamese food and travel this Wednesday evening, July 14. The event surrounds the recently published book by Kim Fay and Julie Fay Ashborn called “Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam.” Following the reading and book signing, there will be a reception with wine, soft drinks and tasty treats prepared from the book. As a bonus, the vegan friendly Mandoline Grill Vietnamese Food Truck will be parked nearby with inexpensive, delicious Vietnamese classics.

Traveler’s Bookcase
8375 West Third Street

Read more about the book at Kim Fay’s Website.

Best Part of My Weekend: Jane Lynch at Outfest

Waiting in line at the Director’s Guild of America on Saturday, early afternoon, I overheard the couple behind me discuss what we were in line for.  “I am so excited to see her,” she said.  “We are so lucky to live in LA,” the other she said.  Yes, yes.  There are a few times (i.e., Sunday morning, trying to get from Los Feliz to Santa Monica) when I get so angry at this city.  (Seriously, why is there rush-hour traffic on Sunday morning?  Sunday!)  And then I remember things like my then-previous day (Saturday), when I was waiting in line and overhearing that conversation.  Yes.  So lucky.  Los Angeles.

You see, I was waiting in line to see Jane Lynch.  She was set to be on an “In Conversation” panel as part of Outfest 2010, the film festival dedicated to queer cinema (it wraps up later this week on July 18).  I was very excited.  Some of you may know this, but, for a variety of reasons I won’t bother getting into here, I run Her Name is Jane Lynch, an unofficial ode to Jane Lynch.  At this, I’m a little embarrassed (I am, after all, a 28 year old (somewhat) grown-up woman (girl)), but also a little proud (the site was voted LA Weekly’s Best Celebrity Fan Site of 2009, huzzah!).  Now, if you live anywhere but LA, the idea of breaking through the digital fourth wall and actually meeting an object of a celebrity fan club or site is a far-off fantasy.  Here?  Not so much.  You’re more likely to run into your favorite celebrity at brunch than your best friend.

Jane Lynch plays Sue Sylvester in Glee, but hopefully you know she has been in pretty much every television show since the early 1990s and in a great number of movies.  She’s a character actor, one that most people recognize but, until Glee anyway, most couldn’t pinpoint exactly why the feeling of familiarity was so strong.  After some 20-odd years of working in the business and being known as “That lady from…”, she now has two Emmy nominations, Outfest’s Annual Achievement Award, and a ranking (99) on the Guardian’s list of the 100 most powerful people in media.  If there was ever a case of someone working hard and finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve, it really is Jane Lynch.  On that note, wow, am I happy that Tina Fey continues to be awesome and get work.

So, along with the rest of the sold-out crowd in Theater 1 of the DGA, I was eager to see Jane Lynch in conversate for 90 minutes about her life and career.  And she didn’t disappoint.

She touched on everything from her family life (“My family was not very funny”) to being only one of two women accepted into renown Chicago theater comedy troupe Second City to parlaying her “authoritative butch dyke” aura (“let’s call it what it is”) into roles originally written for men (i.e., her role as the store manager in 40 Year Old Virgin originally was written for a man) to her Vogue video on Glee (“I was awesome.”).  The discussion was capped by a question and answer period, which I usually find a bit boring, because people who attend these things often have a scary stalker-ish knowledge of the subject at hand, and will ask fairly esoteric question that make sense only to the person asking and the person answering.  The Q & A period following John Waters discussion with Carrie Fisher, for example, was filled with all sorts of references and allusions I had no hope of making heads or tails of.  (By the by, the John Waters event was organized by Zocalo Public Square’s awesome series; if you can’t support the library directly, buy a ticket to any one of Zocalo’s fascinating discussions!).

Thankfully, this was not the case during this session – people asked questions we all understood (Carol Burnett called Jane after Emmy nominations were announced to congratulate her; her favorite Sue Sylvester track suit is the purple with gold stripes; and she thinks she landed the role of Meryl Streep’s sister in Julie & Julia in part because she was the tallest actress director Nora Ephron knew).

Now, I have never, ever been one to ask anyone questions during a Q and A period.  My friends often do, and that’s usually because they are way more ballsy, and way more informed, than I am.  That said, I found my balls somewhere that day (stuck them in a drawer somewhere) and asked her whether she would be interested in hosting SNL (imagine that, an actress with an actual background in sketch comedy, hosting SNL).  This is the one question that I receive most often from fans who happen by Her Name is Jane Lynch, so I thought I’d take one for the team.  Almost 3,000 fans on the Jane Lynch to Host SNL (Please?)! Facebook page can’t be wrong.  So, would she host if asked?  “Yes.  I’d be terrified, but yes.”  Hello, Lorne Michaels?  Crickets?

Celebrity culture is such a funny thing.  I think as residents, we try to eschew what we consider “touristy” faux pas’es: caring that Ashton ate at your neighborhood brunch spot that morning, becoming excited that Pink is standing next to you at Macy Gray’s impromptu concert at the Hotel Cafe, etc.  We think we’re better than that.  I think I’m better than that.  Nonetheless, that does not stop me from getting a little bubbly every time I see someone I recognize (the level of excitement is directly proportional to how much respect I have for them).  This is a thrill that can’t be quite duplicated elsewhere, especially when one does really respect the particular celebrity for what they do.  That is my Apple-level fanboy love for Jane Lynch in a nutshell.   To actually hear these talented people recognize their own abilities without inflating them, and talk about their work seriously, without a hint of arrogance or entitlement – that is a real treat.

Only in LA.

The Lotus Festival Is Back

2007 Lotus Festival by Jodi

After being canceled last year for budgetary reasons, the Lotus Festival returns to Echo Park this weekend. This event, in which local Asian and Pacific Islander communities come together to share and celebrate their cultures, has traditionally been held in July when the Lotus Flower blooms. Echo Park once house the largest lotus bed in the country. Unfortunately, the lotus bed died off two years ago and while there are efforts underway to bring it back, there will not be any of the pink flowers to see. (There weren’t many in ’07 as you can see).

You still might want to take in the free festival though, which runs today and tomorrow starting at 12pm. There will be a variety of entertainers and lots of food vendors. There is a good rundown of what will, and will not, be happening at this year’s 32nd Lotus Festival on the Echo Park Now site.

The festival is today, Saturday, July 10th from 12pm-9pm and tomorrow, Sunday, July 11th from 12pm-8pm. Echo Park Lake is located on Park Avenue between Glendale Avenue and Echo Park Boulevard, just north of the junction of the 101 and 110 freeways.

Festival of Lights cancelled – looking for options.

DWP Festival of Lights
Some rights reserved by Veronica Jauriqui, used under a Creative Commons license.

Sorry, kids. There will be no bitching about how tack the DWP’s Holiday Light Festival this year. No arguing about how bike or pedestrian friendly it should be. That’s right – Santa Claus Tom LaBonge has cancelled the annual event.

Unfortunately, this isn’t some sort of mandate against the DWP for rate hikes and an aversion to accountability and transparency, but simply a matter of practicality. From LaBonge’s weekly update: “Due to the cost and amount of time need to halt a major construction project – the installation of a major water line, the River Supply Conduit – as well as the installation of the new zoo parking lot, it is in the public’s best interest to cancel this year’s event.”

However, LaBonge still hopes for “an alternative location for this great, free, family-friendly event,” and to contact his office if you have any ideas. Heck, leave a comment below and will nudge his staff to keep an eye on this thread.

Big Diaper Donation To Women’s Shelter At The LA Mission

Tina (LA Mission), Kim (HAMO), Bridget (Chaplain, LA Mission)

Last Thursday morning the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission received a donation of 40,000 diapers from Huggies through their new program called Every Little Bottom. Huggies is working with Help A Mother Out (HAMO) and other diaper donation resources to distribute up to 2.5 million diapers around the US and Canada right now. Later in the year, they will donate an additional 20 million diapers. 20 million!

Every day between 15 and 30 moms and dads come to the Anne Douglas Center in downtown LA to receive free diapers for their kids. Diapers and wipes are not covered under Food Stamps and WIC programs, leaving poor families in often horrible positions about whether to spend money on food or rent or diapers. 1 in 3 moms (and dads) struggle to provide diapers for their kids. Diapers can be so scarce that a parent will wash out a disposable diaper and use it again.

I was honored to help distribute diapers on Thursday at the Douglas Center with the HAMO representative in Los Angeles, Kim Tracy Prince. Other LA bloggers, Sarah (Mar Vista Mom),  Catalina (Catalina in LA) and Tania (Pure Natural Diva) were there as well to help spread the word about the need for diapers in LA.  We got to meet and speak to some of the moms who came in. Kenya arrived first with her two very sweet and sleepy kids, Jeremiah and Ja’niyha.

Kenya and her kids with Kim Tracy Prince

A short time later another mom came in. She needed a larger size for her daughter and we only had four diapers in that size (more are coming next week). We apologized profusely for only having four and she said, “That’s four that I didn’t have.”

The Anne Douglas Center will take your diaper donations any time. Just drive to the loading dock at rear of the Mission and they will receive what you have and give you a “gift in kind” receipt. They could really use larger sized diapers — size 4 and 5. Wipes are also very important, if you can add them to a donation. If you can’t make it down to the Los Angeles Mission to donate, you can visit the HAMO website to find various ways to donate online.

The Anne Douglas Center for Women is an amazing place, helping women in need in many ways.  I will tell you about that in another post. For now, if you can, please Help A Mother Out! Every Little Bottom needs diapering.

If you have the very common question of “what about cloth diapers?” please read this excellent article about cloth and disposable diapers for people in need right here.

Los Angeles Mission
303 East Fifth Street
Downtown Los Angeles

Anne Douglas Center for Women

If you want to read the diaper needs study that Huggies conducted, you can read that whole document here.

Thanks to the LA Bloggers for spreading the word! (Sorry Tania, I missed you somehow!)

Kim, Catalina and Sarah

Mommy, Mommy, Baby Wants To Go To Cinefamily’s Dennis Hopper Series

MacQ's Blue Velvet Photo used through Creative Commons license

Starting tomorrow and running every Friday in July (as well as one Sunday and one Saturday), MOCA and Cinespia are copresenting a Dennis Hopper tribute at the Silent Movie Theater. The series opens with a double feature of Easy Rider (in case you missed it at Hollywood Forever last week) and a free screening of The American Dreamer, the 1971 documentary about Hopper (because admit it, you’ve always wanted to see footage of Dennis Hopper walking naked through downtown Taos). L.M. Kit Carson, the co-director, will be present to tell first-hand tales of the madness. One fears to think.

The series ranges from the classic Blue Velvet (Heineken? Fuck that shit!) to the obscure White Star, about which Cinefamily explains:

Made in 1981, whilst the synth-pop takeover in Germany was in full effect, White Star has Hopper playing a jive-talking has-been tour manager who vies to take his latest Tangerine Dream-like discovery straight to the top of the pops. For hardcore Hopperheads, this is the major discovery of our retrospective: Roland Klick’s White Star is balls-out, mood-swingin’, pure, unadulterated Hoppermania, and his performance is ultimately so awesomely unfiltered it seems it almost shouldn’t exist.

What could be wrong with that, I ask you.

For a complete list of the films in the Dennis Hopper: Wasn’t Born to Follow series, check out the Cinefamily site, or watch the trailer below:

Oscar Grant Trial: Officer Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter

I had a post all about the basics of the Oscar Grant trial, but the jury beat me to the punch: former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle – the (white) officer fired one round into the back of Oscar Grant (who is black) as Oscar was lying face-down on the floor of a BART platform – just was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.  The incident took place in Oakland, but the trial was here in Los Angeles.

For those without a legal dictionary on hand, involuntary manslaughter is essentially, “Whoops, I accidentally killed someone.”  You killed someone, but it was either a careless accident or it occurred during the commission of a non-felonious (but still dangerous) act.  Think the outcome of a Russian roulette game horribly gone right.   To convict Officer Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter, the jury had to find that Officer Mehserle’s fatal actions were essentially a result of one giant accident: he made a mistake, and it was one that arose to the level of criminal negligence.  As we will see, Officer Mehserle’s defense is that he mistakenly shot Oscar Grant with his gun when he meant to shoot him with his Taser.  The jury did not find him guilty of second-degree murder, the maximum charge, which essentially is homicide without deliberation or malice.

For those just tuning in and who may be wondering why Oakland may be on fire tonight, the plethora YouTube videos of the incident explain it all (mostly):


As you can see, Oscar Grant is pinned to the floor, face down, his hands behind his back.  Officer Mehserle shoots Oscar in the back.  With his gun.

As mentioned above, Mehserle’s defense was that Oscar was resisting arrest, and he thought Oscar was going for a gun.  In an effort to get a handle on the situation, he reached for his gun when he meant to grab his Taser.  He fired his weapon when he meant to fire his Taser.  It was all a big accident.  As we just learned, the jury agreed, and thus his conviction for involuntary manslaughter.

While most trials involving police brutality are noteworthy for their own reasons, this trial marks one of a very few times when an on-duty officer stood trial for homicide (the four Rodney King officers -Koon, Powell, Briseno, and Wind – all were charged with use of excessive force).  For a jury to characterize an on-duty officer’s incredibly horrific and brutal actions as actual murder and not excuse it as part of the job – well, that would have sent a clear message that, finally, we can have a check on unchecked police power.

The message was not sent today.  Guess we will have to wait until the next brutal killing captured on a dozen phone videos.

Win tix to see Rocco Deluca headline at the White Light White Night benefit this weekend

This weekend, the South Bay plays host to the annual gala known as White Light White Night, benefitting the nonprofit Walk With Sally, which works to mentor and support children who have parents with cancer. This year, White Light White Night features So Cal native Rocco Deluca as the headlining musical guest.

With South Bay cuisine and 360° views of Los Angeles, this event is where white attire-wearing guests will be able to sample appetizers and foods from various renowned LA eateries and imbibe wines, beers and spirits all provided by local businesses. With an exclusive performance by Rocco DeLuca, the event will be hosted on the evening of Saturday, July 10, 2010 at the South Bay BMW lot and rooftop in Torrance. That’s right – the concert and event are being held on the roof!

General tickets cost $100 per person and VIP tickets, allowing access to the silent and live auction (offering one‐of‐a‐kind products and experiences including tickets to sporting events and lavish vacation packages), cost $150 per person and can be purchased online.

Walk With Sally is dedicated to providing mentoring support programs and services to children of parents or siblings with cancer through free of charge mentoring support programs and services that provide an emotionally safe environment for children to share their difficult experience with someone who has suffered the same.

Walk With Sally is also generously giving a pair of tickets to a lucky Blogging.LA reader! Just leave a comment on why you’d like to attend this event– you could tell us your favorite Rocco songs, list the eateries you’re most excited to try, or even share a personal story of cancer in the family. A winner will be selected by 3pm on Friday, July 9 and will be added to the guest list.

Theme Building At LAX To Reopen July 10

After three years of refurbishment, the Theme Building at LAX will officially reopen this Saturday July 10. The most exciting part? The Observation Deck, closed to the public since 9/11 will also be open. If you are an airplane nut like me, this is COOL!

Three years ago a large chunk of the stucco fell from one of the arches onto the roof of the building and inspections revealed a few problems. The building was closed, scaffolding erected and fixes were made. Encounter Restaurant was closed for a about eight months while construction continued. Now the building is scaffold free and all gussied up for the reopening.

The Theme Building opened in 1961 and was designed by three different firms: Pereira & Luckman and Associates, Welton Becket and Associates, and Paul R. Williams. (Paul Williams also designed one of my other favorite buildings:  La Concha Motel in Las Vegas. I stayed there not long before it was moved to it’s final resting place.)

The observation deck will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 8-5. It is free to go up, though you must pay for parking and there are security checks. I personally look forward to being there in the not too distant future.

(Photo by x-ray delta one used under CC license.)

Win Tix (And Win Points With Your Kid): Jordin Sparks at Club Nokia

Are you a tween? No? Perhaps you parent one. Perhaps you’re not afraid to let your inner 13-year-old freak flag fly. But for whatever the reason, you want these tix to see the multitalented America Idol winner, Jonas Brothers gal pal and ubiquitous Nickelodeon guest star Jordin Sparks when she plays live at Club Nokia this Friday.

Wanna get the tickets? Leave a comment telling me the very first musical idol you had a crush on. We’ll pick a few lucky winners to go.

Featured photo by colormepink on flickr via a creative commons license.