By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
A wall plaque inside the Los Angeles Sports Arena captures a youngish-looking (was he ever really young?) Dick Nixon, who "as vice president dedicated this Memorial Sports Arena July 4, 1959." The patron saint of bad losers might serve as a mascot for the L.A. Clippers, a team that lost its first 17 games and, at 8-and-43, was the proud holder as of Saturday of the second-worst record in the NBA. When OffBeat learned that the Clippers would face the only team worse than they — the Vancouver Grizzlies — we knew we had to be there. Three of Vancouver’s eight (out of 36) wins were over the Clippers. Revenge, if it could be had, would be sweet.
The Clippers came out stumbling, throwing passes over teammates’ heads and shots that clanged off the rim. The team was down by 10 points when coach Chris Ford called a time-out. "Nobody’s sitting here?" said a man, pointing to two seats beside OffBeat. Pedro was soon talking up a storm, pointing at his 10-year-old son, who had won their two free tickets — not particularly good ones — in a parks department–sponsored Two-Ball tournament.
By halftime, the Clippers were still down by four. "This is my show!" Pedro hooted as 12 scantily clad young women rushed onto the hardwood to begin their choreographed aerobics. The dancers stopped for an overweight guy in lime-green shorts to be escorted to half-court, where he heaved a basketball at the rim, in the hope of winning a new SUV. The crowd groaned as the ball fell five feet short of the hoop. At the concessions stand, Bradford Sayer of Valencia was dour. "The Clippers shouldn’t move to the Staples Center," he said. (The new downtown stadium opens next October for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings.) "The Clippers don’t deserve the Staples."
Still, basketball’s version of Henny Youngman began the third quarter as if it were playoffs time. A few minutes into the fourth quarter, as Maurice Taylor of the Clippers shook the rim with a monster slam, the home team was leading, the crowd was standing, and Grizzlies coach Brian Hill called for a time-out. No question about it, thought OffBeat, the Battle of the Bads can be more fun than watching a team of superstars, like the Lakers, play uninspired basketball for 48 minutes. Final score: Clippers, 105-96. "This is the first time I’ve seen them win. Oh yeah, it’s gonna turn around," a middle-aged man near us told his wife. "They get Dennis Rodman, it’s gonna turn around."—Ronnie Cohen
The hottest young curator in Southern California is apparently too hot for the museum that launched his soaring career. Tyler Stallings, who most recently mounted the nationally acclaimed Edgar Leeteg black-velvet painting show, is being yanked from his post at the Huntington Beach Art Center by city tastemakers, who want the space turned over to more "traditional" work that will "appeal to the donor base."
The Leeteg exhibition won high praise in Southern California publications, as well as coverage in The Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Enquirerand on National Public Radio. Additional shows brought in by the bespectacled, boyish 34-year-old Stallings include an installation on lesbian families, racism and homelessness, and others on skateboard culture, UFOs and the Grateful Dead. Last year, the museum hosted acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller, who stripped and discussed his homosexuality. Upcoming shows featuring the work of Elizabeth Olbert and Margaret Keane have been canceled, as has a survey of small-scale art that was to have included pieces by Chris Burden, Yoko Ono, Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle and Jeffrey Vallance.
Stallings calls the city’s change of heart "tragic," adding that "it reifies stereotypes of unintellectualism and provincialism in Orange County." As a show of solidarity, the museum’s entire staff of seven is quitting (director Naida Osline has been "promoted" to the position of special-events coordinator for the city). In addition to griping about the content of the shows, city folk had complained about the city-funded museum’s $300,000-plus deficit, even though most of that debt comes from building renovation, which had nothing to do with Stallings or programming at the museum. Bolton Colburn, director of the Laguna Art Museum, dismisses claims of financial mishandling at the Art Center as bullshit" and has only the highest praise for Stallings, whom he hopes to hire as exhibitions curator at his museum by early summer. "Tyler is not your typical hotshot curator," Colburn says. "He has a really astute vision, but he’s not doctrinaire. He breaks the mold."—Sara Catania
MILLION M.J. MARCH
Back in October, Somayah Kambui, known in local circles as Sister Somayah, greeted a pair of LAPD officers who asked to search her South-Central Los Angeles home. They claimed to have information about PCP and crack cocaine on the premises, but the medical-marijuana sign in Kambui’s window suggested the cops’ real motive. A committed hemp activist who uses pot to treat her own and others’ sickle cell anemia, Kambui had 35 marijuana plants blooming in her back yard. It wasn’t long before the LAPD narco squad confiscated her "Nigretian Keif" — a sticky green African strain of pot — and threw her in the clink. "Why," she recalled asking herself as she languished in L.A. County’s Twin Towers jail, "are we going to jail for personal medicine?"