ELVIN HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

There are only 11 authentically hip people on the planet at any random moment, and that list is fluid. There are also the few one meets per lifetime that make the list frequently. My friend Elvin Whitesides was repeatedly one of The Eleven. Actor, writer, musician, and co-editor of literary annual Saturday Afternoon Journal, he's also known as an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, co-directing, f'rinstance, the powerful Jacob Lawrence: An Intimate Portrait, about the legendary African-American artist. He also held down a day gig as manager of the Audio Visual Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for years. And as an explorer in the realm of late-night fun, he was a professional — and often ringleader. He was beloved by so many, both in his birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi, but also here in L.A. by the gang of screenwriters, thespians, poets, guitar pickers and Magnolia State expats I dubbed The Mississippi Mafia. (Note: Our mutual friend Mary Turner claims she coined the appellation, so I'll note that here and let The Gods of Dawn Greeters decide.) Elvin died suddenly this past May 20 of a brain aneurysm at age 56, leaving a whole lot of sad professionals in his wake. LACMA is honoring him by screening a favorite film of his, Robert Altman's The Player, a black comedy about the savagery of Hollywood, something members of The Mississippi Mafia know about all too well. Altman shot scenes at LACMA and Elvin shot Robert shooting, so his documentary short of said shooting will also be shown. Sho' 'nuff.
Thu., July 29, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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