By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
MONDAY, MAY 25
GENTLEMEN, SET YOUR ALARMS!
Whoever decided that the L.A. Marathon XXIV should be moved to late May instead of February is in for a world of hate if this turns out to be a hot weekend. And the cyclists who take part in the Acura L.A. Bike Tour (part of the Marathon activities along with a 5K run) can also complain that their starting time was moved from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m. (Is this fun for you?) The rest of us, who wake up and forgot about the whole event, are in for an ugly surprise if we try to drive anywhere east of Crenshaw Boulevard. You know what? The L.A. Marathon might just be what this so-called city needs to bond over. Let the complaining begin! Downtown L.A.; Mon., May 25, Marathon field starts at 7:24 a.m. www.lamarathon.com.
TUESDAY, MAY 26
GHOSTS OF HONG KONG PAST
It’s a Hong Kong horror grindhouse double bill, this time at the New Beverly, presented by Eric Caidin and Brian Quinn. First up is a 35mm print of the rare School on Fire (1988), Ringo Lam’s cross between Blackboard Jungle and Bad Boys (either the Sean Penn one or the Will Smith one, you pick). Then there’s 1982’s Till Death Do We Scare, the HK comedy about a woman’s three dead husbands who find her a new husband, a premise from which this year’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past stole all of its ideas. Caidin is still recovering from the brutal stabbing attack last year by an unbalanced former associate in his Hollywood Book & Poster shop on the boulevard; that he continues finding and screening these films every month for the past six years would be a Herculean feat in and of itself. It’ll be the usual retinue of loudmouthed hecklers; the trailers between the double bill; the raffle that awards ticket holders everything from vintage smut and trash memorabilia to useless orphaned lobby cards and a bottle of hooch specifically chosen for this evening. Did you know that Gallo won’t cop to the fact that it produces two of the world’s finest fortified wines, Night Train and Thunderbird? It’s precisely that kind of shame and mortification that Caidin and Quinn transform into jocular, avuncular enjoyment of these wretched vomited bits of celluloid in a way that speaks to a true lover of all film, not a chortlesome and scornful hipster for whom even the most perfect film eventually withers and turns into ash in the mouth of the mind. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Tues., May 26, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038.
WHY NOT JUST BLAME ALL OF LIVERPOOL?
The taboo, defined as “a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure,” is an uncommon phenom in the 21st century, but with this reading of excerpts from How the Beatles Destroyed Rock & Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music, author Elijah Wald will defy one of Western pop culture’s last and most dearly held myths. No mere upstart hatchet job, this: Wald, as assiduous researcher and exceedingly analytical historian, traces the rise, decline and fall of the big beat from its earliest stirrings, closely examining the blues-jazz-swing-jive evolution, placing such oft-dismissed spearheads as Paul Whiteman and Mitch Miller in their correct historical context and highlighting the double standard that enabled the Fabs to plunder the work of African-American artists and — unlike Elvis — never be held accountable for the pillage. A complex, fascinating and long-overdue response to decades of industry-driven revisionism that’s sure to outrage lemmings and invigorate lions, the book has been getting some powerful advance praise (“Wald’s book is suave, soulful, ebullient and will blow out your speakers,” Tom Waits reckons). For his part, Wald is already suffering: “I’ve been having these bad dreams where half the reviewers hate me for being anti-Beatles and the other half hate me for not being sufficiently anti-Beatles. ... I figure I’m hitting a reasonable compromise by treating the Beatles fairly, alongside Paul Whiteman and Mitch Miller.” You be the judge. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd; Tues., May 26, 7 p.m. (310) 659-3110 or www.booksoup.com.
ESCHENBACH GETS HIS BATON
In a way, Christoph Eschenbach was saved by music. Born in Germany in 1940, he was orphaned during World War II and so traumatized by the incomprehensible loss that he stopped speaking for a year. What finally made the little boy open his mouth again was a simple question: Do you want to learn music? Yes! A cousin of his mother’s adopted Eschenbach, the child’s foster mother started him on the piano, and voilà, a genius was discovered. At 11, upon seeing the great Wilhelm Furtwangler, Eschenbach decided he wanted to become a conductor. By the early ’60s, the matured prodigy was winning major piano competitions and studying conducting with legends like Georg Szell and Herbert von Karajan. Today, the 69-year-old Eschenbach is a controversial figure — his much-publicized and abrupt dismissal as director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2008 engendered a loud pro-and-con debate that highlighted the conflicting aspects of his nature. On the one hand, Eschenbach was considered a consummate musician, an innovative, bold interpreter, and a “lovely guy.” On the other, his musical choices and style tended to alienate the orchestra members and their listeners. “Eighty percent of the musicians leave concerts angry,” noted one critic, while another observed that “audiences walk out during performances.” The Philadelphia affair was unfortunate, because Eschenbach is a revered conductor and fabulous pianist who has never stopped being in demand around the world. This week, he holds court with the L.A. Phil in three performances of Tchaikovsky’s Francesca di Rimini and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. In addition, he’ll perform Dvoràk’s Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81 with members of the orchestra, and Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat major, D. 960 in a Chamber Music Society concert. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Philharmonic concerts Fri.-Sat., May 22-23, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 24, 2 p.m.; Upbeat Live lecture by Russell Steinberg, artistic director of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, one hour before concerts; $42-$147; Chamber Music Society concert Tues., May 26, 8 p.m.; $24-$49. (323) 850-2000 or www.laphil.com.
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