Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014


A Secret Art Farm in Glassell Park

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Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM
The secret art farm — better known as the home of artist Fritz Haeg. - PHOTO BY SASCHA BOS
  • Photo by Sascha Bos
  • The secret art farm — better known as the home of artist Fritz Haeg.

It's 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, and the sun has just risen over eastern Los Angeles. One by one, people ascend the stairs to Fritz Haeg's home, high in the hills of Glassell Park, overlooking the city. They are here for Haeg's latest project: the L.A. Seminary for Civic and Embodied Arts.

Haeg, an artist, architect and community advocate, has spent the past nine years turning front lawns all over the world into edible gardens. But he's back home in L.A. for the summer, with a group of curious artists once again at his house.

The home includes three stories of geodesic dome–topped living space and sprawling gardens. "Since I've lived here for 15 years, it's always been a place for semi-public activity," he says. But this is the first iteration of the seminary, 12 consecutive Saturdays of mindful activity and thoughtful conversation, which Haeg frames as "less like a school and more like a retreat."

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  • Shannon Cottrell

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, I stayed with some friends who, by luck of the hotel lottery system, landed a room at a high-end establishment across the street from the convention center. It's the kind of place better known for hosting exclusive, red carpet parties than for housing the regular folks who attend the convention every year.

Throughout the weekend-and-change of festivities, the crowd outside the hotel grew, a mishmash of fans and paparazzi jerking their heads and cameras as they followed nerd royalty from limos to the door. I don't know if anyone famous was actually a guest there. Inside, I saw little more than security guards and publicists, but still had to show a room key to get past the ropes that blocked the route from entrance to elevators.

The movie star rush that comes with this sort of exclusivity wore away after the first adventure past the gatekeepers. As the days passed, the ritual of squeezing through crowds and flashing keys was irritating enough to make even the biggest cynic feel a touch of sympathy for the celebrities who stopped by for a party appearance. This was more like Oscar weekend in Hollywood than a nerdfest.

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Marina Magalhães and Allison Gray in BlakTina2 - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKTINA 2
  • Photo courtesy of BlakTina 2
  • Marina Magalhães and Allison Gray in BlakTina2

This week's dance events include two dance festivals, a Dream event, Spanish dance from Cuba and a lady in a tower.

5.  Kickstarter dance

With funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign, Licia Perea, her Latina Dance Theater and the ever-adventurous Bootleg Theater return with a new edition of BlakTina 2. The obliquely named showcase spotlights mid-career and emerging Latino and African-American choreographers based in L.A. The ten selected choreographers offer a blend of premieres and previously staged works. Dancemakers Cyrian Reed, Dorcas Román, Marina Magalhães/Allison Gray and Michelle Funderburk contribute the new works. Sofia Carreras, Rande Dorn, Joshua Romero, Crystal Sepúlveda and Maura Townsend offer previously restaged pieces. The styles range from dance/theater, hip-hop, tap, jazz and spoken-word including poetry by Maya Angelou. At Bootleg Theater, 2200 Beverly Blvd., Echo Park; Thurs.-Sat., Sept. 4-6, 7:30 p.m., $20. 213-389-3856, www.bootlegtheater.org.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tom Smuts, Emmy-nominated bicyclist - PHOTO BY DANNY LIAO
  • Photo by Danny Liao
  • Tom Smuts, Emmy-nominated bicyclist

He was never supposed to be the celebrity. Tom Smuts, a cycling enthusiast who pedals to work three days a week, was just the organizer. But after being nominated for his first Emmy this year, the Mad Men producer thought he might be able to use his connections to get a bunch of famous people to bike together to the awards show.

The problem is that no actual famous people wanted to make the trip.

"Of course I emailed Jon Hamm and all the Mad Men cast members, all of whom said something about their hair or sweat," Smuts says. "It was important to me that the people riding up to the red carpet would be Hollywood people."

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Very few people saw this movie.
  • Very few people saw this movie.

Why did so few people see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For over the weekend? That and other topics are discussed in this week's edition of the Voice Film Club podcast with the Village Voice's Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek, joined as always by Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly via the magic of the Internet.The trio also discusses the latest YA adaptation If I Stay, the BDSM doc Kink, and they wrap with Alan and Amy split on relationship movie The One I Love, starring Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.

  • Courtesy Last Projects
This week, one artist dresses as a clown and another shows that sloppiness can happily coexist with polish. 

5. Outsiders
Twice each year, the MAK Center hosts young artists from outside the United States, giving them an apartment they can stay in for three months while working on a project based on Los Angeles. The spring-summer residency just ended and Copenhagen-based Maria von Hausswolff is showing the four-minute film noir she made. It delves into suicide, scandal, murder and romance. Vienna-based Björn Kämmerer made a 16mm film inspired by the "bad guy" targets used for shooting practice. 1137 S. Cochran Ave., Mid-Wilshire; Opening Thurs., Sept. 4, 7-9 p.m.; on view through Sept. 7. (323) 651-1510, makcenter.org.

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The Girl Next Door
  • The Girl Next Door

Friday, Aug. 29

What do you get when you mix a porn star, three horny teenage guys and sex ed? The makings of a hilarious high school comedy with the likes of Elisha Cuthbert, Emile Hirsch and Timothy Olyphant. The Girl Next Door celebrates its 10th anniversary with a screening at the New Beverly Cinema at midnight, presented by @moviedude18. Director Luke Greenfield, whose Let’s Be Cops is currently in theaters, and actor Chris Marquette (Eli) are scheduled to appear in person.

Saturday, Aug. 30

Gi suilon! Pedig edhellen? If you understood that, chances are this epic 11 hours plus event is right up your alley. Starting at 1 p.m., the Aero Theatre will show the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back (with 20-minute breaks). The Meat in the Middle food truck will be parked outside for your first and second supper needs. Also, TheOneRing.net will be offering trivia games. (P.S. I wrote, “I greet you! Do you speak Elvish?”)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Montae Russell as Charlie Parker - JAMES ESPOSITO
  • James Esposito
  • Montae Russell as Charlie Parker
Charlie "Yardbird" Parker has been dead for almost a half-century, and yet the saxophonist’s name and music have a stubborn staying power. From Clint Eastwood’s 1988 biopic to the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Bird remains a potent pop culture icon. But the question is: Why?

In Willard Manus’ Bird Lives!, the playwright looks beyond Parker’s music and offers a raw examination of the man behind the legend. The 70-minute production, directed by Tommy Hicks at the Chromolume Theatre at the Attic, unravels like a Shakespearean tragedy, laying bare a brief and hard life, which makes Parker's musical accomplishments seem all the more remarkable in retrospect.

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Patrick Cragin, Bianca Lemaire and Chantae Pink - ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
  • Patrick Cragin, Bianca Lemaire and Chantae Pink
“Why do you live where they do this to colored people?” asks 18-year-old Bulrusher, who grew up one of two black people in pastoral yet progressive Boonville, California. It’s the summer of 1955, and Vera, who’s just off a train from Birmingham, has shown her new friend a magazine photo of Emmett Till’s mutilated face.

“’Cause we’re tired of running,” Vera replies.

Eisa Davis’ Bulrusher, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, was first produced almost a decade ago. But with most of the country riveted by Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager recently was shot and killed by a police officer, this exchange could not feel timelier or more chilling.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

  • Photo by Wendy Gilmartin
  • New Big Blue Bus stops

The renovation of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus route stops began in 2009, when city stakeholders chose local firm Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects to re-think the functionality, look and feel of the city's stops, and accommodate for new amenities like solar lighting and real-time arrival information. Five years later, the stops are being unveiled one block at a time.

Recently, after installers pulled the plastic wrap from the stations near Santa Monica City College, L.A. Weekly asked one bus riding student, Maricela Ramos, what she thought of the new design, “It's kind of dinky and small,” said Ramos. Hers is a reaction that's been common so far.

To be fair, the stops come in three different “sizes” or configurations depending on locations that serve higher or lower rider volumes (for instance, some stops at major intersections will have more seats and more canopies). At minimum the stops consist of one oblong column with a bright blue disc atop for shade (also a solar collector), one trash can and one recycling bin clad in a wavy, triple-tone blue pattern of metal strips, and one or two low blue metal seats.

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