GO LA: Dead Poets, Dead Writers and Denis Leary
FRIDAY, APRIL 3
PLEASE SIR, I WANT SOME GORE
Amit Itelman is the lovable sicko who programs the always adventurous Steve Allen Theatre. Last year’s Masters of Horror Drive-In Series in the theater’s parking lot was a huge success; now he’s back with more gore for your buck. Screenings, made drive-in-able by Eric Curtland’s Hollywood Mob Mov, are followed by talks with the directors, so you can get some good fake-blood stories. “I think it’s a shame that so many people have never been to a drive-in,” Itelman says. “It’s such a distinctively American experience. Making out with your girl in your car while a werewolf transformation reflects on your windshield is about the most patriotic thing you can do. A lot is said about the ‘safe scare’ experience that horror films give you. I think people have a morbid fascination with death and the fragility of the human body. We’re genetically wired to be afraid of being eaten alive; we’re still afraid of being hunted. Horror films wake up those dormant fears. Then again ... a dude wearing a mask made out of human skin with a chain saw is kind of intriguing, don’t ya think?” Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling) kicks things off tonight. In coming weeks, it’s Tobe Hooper, Don Coscarelli, Mick Garris and many more white men. Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; every Fri., 8 p.m.; $8. (323) 666-4268, or steveallentheater.com. —Libby Molyneaux
LOTUS ENTERTAIN YOU
An island where it is always a soft, lazy afternoon with beautiful inhabitants bearing mind-numbing lotus fruit — a 23-line episode from Homer’s The Odyssey, which Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Lotus Eaters elaborated into a 173-line poem arrives in a 21st-century incarnation with help from choreographer Laura Gorenstein Miller and her Helios Dance Theater. After the show’s preview last fall, Miller and her handpicked team of collaborators and dancers expanded and polished The Lotus Eaters for this premiere. With costumes from Project Runway alum Rami Kashou, set design by Alison van Pelt, original music composed and performed by Grant-Lee Phillips plus original compositions from Rob Cairns, this Lotus Eaters is as much intergalactic epic as Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, sailors sent to explore the island fall under the lotus fruit’s dreamlike lethargy, content to languish there and abandon the struggle to return home from the Trojan War. As the debate continues on whether to confront or ignore the world’s current harsh economic realities, the different resolutions in the poems are striking. Homer’s Odysseus hauls his entranced sailors back to the ship to sail home, Tennyson leaves the sailors on the island dreaming of home but now both figuratively and literally lost forever. A post-performance benefit features Phillips. Benefit ticket info at www.heliosdancetheater.org. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Fri., April 3, 7:30 p.m.; $29-$75; (310) 434-3200 or www.thebroadstage.com. —Ann Haskins
TAKE THAT, MRS. MELMAN!
The harpsichord is one of those misunderstood musical instruments that delivers a whole lot more than most people expect from it. I fell in love with the harpsichord when I was in high school, and even though my piano teacher, good old Mrs. Melman, pooh-poohed it as “silly” and “tinkly,” a poor cousin to the full-bodied modern piano, I went on to study it in college, where I learned that Mrs. Melman basically had no idea what she was talking about. There are lots of different kinds of harpsichords, from the thin-sounding, “tinkly” one-manual low-end jobs to the great grand piano–size Pleyels, Zuckermanns and Grimaldis, and the sound and capabilities of the best harpsichords are pretty much limitless. This week, the Harpsichord Center, possibly Eagle Rock’s best kept secret, continues its Friday Evening Artist’s Series with Musical Espionage: Close Encounters During the 30 Years’ War, by noted early-music keyboardist Gilbert Martinez, who performs 17th-century works by Bull, Tomkins, Chambonnieres, Froberger, Schneidermann and others, on an instrument guaranteed to charm and amaze you. Trinity Lutheran Church, 997 Walnut Ave., Pasadena; Fri., April 3, 8 p.m.; $20, $15 students & seniors. (323) 254-9613. —Mary Beth Crain
SATURDAY, APRIL 4
Bohemia ain’t what it used to be. Rampant faux-bohemianism has replaced lush and mainlining with gelato and yoga and Brangelina forbid you’ve been up all night with your reprobate pals when you oughta be waking up to dress the tot (adopted or homemade) in a Ramones T-shirt for Daddy Day. The urban landscape is lousy with FoBos because the real ones WENT AND DIED. Thankfully la bohème elite left behind lots of evidence as both creators and subjects. Bukowski and Burroughs pays tribute to two late literary outlaws, as well as to their living conspirators. Sam Cherry is a 95-years-young photographer who took lots of gritty black-and-whites of Buk in the ’60s and ’70s, San Fran’s Black Cat Café in the ’40s and L.A.’s Skid Row in the ’80s. He is a wizard of light and shadow, whose subjects never ate gelato. Paired with Cherry’s earthy pics is the Left Coast premiere of the lost art of Ah POOK IS HERE, a never-pubbed 1970s graphic-novel collab twixt Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill based on Lonesome Cowboy Bill’s ruminations about the Mayan death god. (Many will remember Burroughs’ recitation of “Ah Pook the Destroyer” from his 1990 Dead City Radio recording.) McNeill perfectly captured Bill’s twisted, funny mythopoetic landscape with his own detailed, realistic fantasy art. These four masters of their mediums transport us poor 21st-century suckers into worlds real and imagined, which share a serrated edge currently lacking in art, literature and the everyday lives of those who claim to be edge dwellers because of their choice of T-shirt. (Opening reception on Saturday, April 4, 6-9 p.m.) Track 16 Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Bldg. C-1, Santa Monica; runs Sat., April 4-Sat., May 2. (310) 264-4678 or www.track16.com. —Michael Simmons
DENIS LEARY, CLINTOPHILE
Why discuss the Rescue Me Comedy Tour, Leary’s first live jaunt in 12 years, when there are only two things on his mind: East and Wood?
L.A. WEEKLY: Can you rant on command? I’ll give you a topic: Pancakes.
DENIS LEARY: Right before lunch I sat down at my computer and wrote a little rant about how much I love bacon. Sometimes it just comes to you, but sometimes it’s watching Lindsay Lohan say she’s gonna be under the protective custody of Stephen and Danny Baldwin for her sobriety. It’s organic. It’s of the ether, you know?
You’re a distant cousin of Conan O’Brien’s. Do you cordon off a special VIP section at family reunions?
I think he’s in denial about the relationship, and at this point, I kind of am, too, because we come from the same city and different sides of the track. He went to Harvard; I went to Emerson. One’s a school full of highly intellectual superbrains and the other is a bunch of actors and musicians and dancers. But for two skinny Irish guys from Western Massachusetts, we’re doin’ okay.
Which was the greater validation: Christopher Walken poking fun at you on the Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary, or being labeled a “very epic” superstar during an appearance on The Simpsons?
The Simpsons was really big for my kids and my nieces and nephews, and I’m a fan of the show. There’s one that still gets me: I did a movie with Clint Eastwood years ago. They did a Biography of me on the Biography Channel, and one of the guys in my office said, “Do you know Clint Eastwood is doing an interview for the Biography thing?” That, to me, is just huge. My mother would say being on Oprah is the greatest thing that ever happened to our entire family. I was forgiven all of my past sins by virtue of sitting next to Oprah.
Forget comedy influences; who inspires those badass sideburns of yours?
Are they really badass? For a fair-haired Irishman ...I don’t know. Probably Clint Eastwood.
Nokia Theatre, 777 Chick Hearn Court, downtown; Sat., April 4, 8 p.m.; $40.50-$80.50. (213) 763-6020.
ONE SINGS, THE OTHER HAMS IT UP
Apparently, singer-songwriter (and novelist — blimey!) John Wesley Harding and comedian Eugene Mirman are good friends. Sure, everybody knows everybody in show biz by six degrees, but that pairing never occurred to us ... although in hindsight we’re not sure why. Harding’s dulcet song stylings have always featured a bracing wit, not to mention moments of out-and-out comic genius. (Ever hear his Fab Four reunion epic “When the Beatles Hit America,” written several years before “Free as a Bird” was released? It’s a riot, and not just a teeny bit prophetic.) Mirman, on the other hand, though well known for his standup, is also a regular on Flight of the Conchords and first turned up on our radar thanks to a marvelous bit of musical Flash animation on his Web site, featuring his childhood self-portrait, which warbles rock classics in the key of “off.” (Li’l Mirman’s Daltrey impression is particularly inspired: “Who-o-o are you, whoareyouwhoareyouwho-o-o the fuck are you AAAAAH!”) Don’t know what we were thinking, to be honest; bet these two gents would make quite a team ... and we’ll get to find out for certain on Saturday, when their traveling music-and-comedy revue, Wes & Eugene’s Cabinet of Wonders, hits Largo at the Coronet, featuring a terrific lineup that also includes Jill Sobule, Mike Viola, Al Stewart, Ron Lynch, Matthew Specktor and a supersecret surprise guest. Or two. Ooh-er, the suspense! Wes & Eugene’s Cabinet of Wonders at Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd.; Sat., April 4, 9 p.m., $25. (310) 855-0350. —Nicole Campos
L.A. STORIES WANTED — THIS MEANS YOU!
Got a story about your L.A. Neighborhood? Maybe you know something about an old building. If this press release is to be believed, 85 percent of our city “has never been surveyed to identify these significant historic places.” The Getty encourages us to share tales as part of MYhistoricLA: Preserving Los Angeles, L.A.’s “first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout Los Angeles.” The project kicks off with a day full of activities, including a panel discussion with KPCC Air Talk host Larry Mantle, plus a screening of the award-winning video SurveyLA: Preserving Los Angeles. Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, Fifth & Flower sts.; downtown, Sat., April 4, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations at www.aloudla.org. —L.M.
When it comes to pushing the edge of the musical envelope, Jacaranda’s right out there in front, either going where no artist has gone before, or where no artist particularly wants to go. The musicians of Jacaranda are the most intrepid of explorers — in fact, some might even call them daredevils — for whom no technical feat is too daunting, and this week they’re presenting a program of “extreme performance” not intended for the faint of voice and finger. First off is a piano four-hands version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring — enough to scare off most pianists but apparently not intimidating to duo pianists Danny Holt and Steven Vanhauwaert. A violent, sensuous ballet about pagan fertility rites and self-sacrifice, its notoriously controversial premiere in Paris by the Ballets Russes in 1913, Le Sacre du Printemps was greeted with boos and catcalls so deafening that Nijinsky, who choreographed the work, had to yell instructions to the dancers while standing on a chair.
The Rite of Spring still stands as one of the boldest and most difficult works; of its complexities, Leonard Bernstein said, “It’s got the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities and polyrhythms and whatever else you care to name.” Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi is a “song of love and death” inspired by the rite of spring and the legend of Tristan and Isolde. As Jacaranda observes, Harawi should only be attempted by “the bravest soprano and most indefatigable pianist.” Soprano Elissa Johnston and pianist Vicki Ray are presumably up to the challenge. First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second St., Santa Monica; Sat., April 4, 8 p.m.; online $35, $15 students; at door $39, $19 students. (213) 483-0216 or www.jacarandamusic.org. —Mary Beth Crain
SUNDAY, APRIL 5
“I’D RATHER HAVE A BOTTLE IN FRONT OF ME THAN A FRONTAL LOBOTOMY.” —TOM WAITS
Portland has one. So do Philadelphia and most cities in Michigan. Even slow-to-catch-up San Diego has one. But Los Angeles has never had its own beer festival until this year’s inaugural Los Angeles Beer Festival. And what makes a great beer festival? Well, this one seems to think Budweiser is part of the equation, so you may want to proceed with caution. Also, the Web site is peopled with white women who look like overly desperate housewives.
However, there will be brews from a slew of domestic and international beer makers. You pay $40 for unlimited 4-ounce tastings — which adds up to about four bucks for every trip to the loo. And entertainment is by Petty Cash, a tribute to Tom and Johnny (Saturday) and Hollywood U2 (Sunday), whose Web site says they are “even better than the real thing (almost).” Sony Pictures Lot, 10202 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Sat.-Sun., April 4-5, 2-5 p.m.; $40, discount for designated driver. www.drinkeatplay.com/labeerfest/. —L.M.
MONDAY, APRIL 6
MY DEALER TOOK A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY HABIT
Anyway, New York in the ’70s was like a jolt to the veins, har, har. Now it’s a coffee-table book called Bright Lights, Big City: New York City in the ’70s. Allan Tannenbaum’s photographs capture the era’s glitz, as well as the scum. As photo editor of SoHo Weekly News, he covered the club scene and much more, and the book should satisfy your curiosity about what went on in those VIP lounges at the Mudd Club and Studio 54. John Lennon, Mick, Bianca, Debbie and Chris, the Ramones, Mayor Koch, Patti Smith, Kurt Russell (huh?) all show up. Art in Tune, 7775 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; open daily April 3-14, noon-6 p.m. (310) 382-6169. –L.M.
TUESDAY, APRIL 7
Death’s a bummer for everyone, especially John Fante. The late author penned some of the most visceral stuff ever committed to print but never became the household name he should have been. Toward the end of his life — when diabetes claimed his sight and his legs — Fante began to achieve the sort of recognition he deserved, but he passed away in 1983 at the age of 74, just before he was about to explode onto the literary community. His legion of devoted fans has grown steadily since, and all it took was dying for him to become a bona fide must-read author. Gone but certainly not forgotten; an event celebrating John Fante’s 100th Birthday is sure to entice those who worship at the Fante altar. Moderated by David Kipen, director of literature at the National Endowment for the Arts, a panel consisting of Fante biographer Stephen Cooper, KCRW’s Frances Anderton, Esotouric co-founder Richard Schave and daughter Vickie Cohen will discuss the writer’s legacy and how much he would have reveled in the notoriety his books enjoy today. And if there’s an afterlife that allows the dead access to the modern world, fans know that Fante’s wine drunk and grinning ear to ear over what’s become of his career. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Tues., April 7, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000. On Wed., April 8, 8 p.m., an informal gathering at the King Edward Saloon to raise a glass to John Fante, 131 E. Fifth St., downtown. –Ryan Ritchie
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8
CALIFORNIA, HERE YOU GO
There’s a saying that goes, “You know you’re from California when you were born somewhere else.” Speaking as a fourth-generation Southern Californian — can you all go home now? Author Mark Arax traveled four years to learn all he could about the lesser-known parts of the Golden State for West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State. The collection includes “The Summer of the Death of Hilario Guzman,” about an immigrant family from Oaxaca; “Home Front,” about right-wing Christians and Jews; and his award-winning piece “The Legend of Zankou.” (Also with Thomas Curwen of the L.A. Times at ALOUD, Mon., April 6, 7 p.m; www.lfla.org/aloud/index.php.) Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wed., April 8, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $26.95. (323) 660-1175. —L.M.
THURSDAY, APRIL 9
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN BAD FILMS
The folks at the Hammer Museum are brave, or maybe something else. They decided it’s a good idea to initiate Open Projector Night, an opportunity for you to screen your short film. “Expect rowdiness to ensue as the crowd divides between boos and cheers — a cross between open-mike night and the Gong Show for locally made film & video shorts. Amateurs and professionals are equally welcome — as long as the work is 10 minutes or less. Sign-ups are first come, first served. Feel free to bring your favorite munchies and don’t forget to grab a drink at the cash bar!” Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs., April 9, 7 p.m.; free (it had better be). (310) 443-7000. —L.M.
SAM TRIPOLI’S NAUGHTY SHOW: HOW LOW CAN YOU BROW?
Sam Tripoli was a finalist on a Howard Stern comedy contest. In his act, he makes fun of a disabled stripper and does Hulk Hogan jokes. He even asked Latina women if they enjoy being Mexican. Yes, he’s low-brow. —Libby Molyneaux
L.A. WEEKLY: Tripoli? What does it mean?
When translated to English it means sexy, or, as my grandmother use to say, “That dirty man heat!”
Who are some other funny Armenians?
There are a few of us. Myself, Ara Basil, John Hoogasian and the Kardashians. There’s also a guy named Sam the Armenian Comedian (different Armenian Sam), but we don’t really claim him, he’s kind of like the Bryant Gumble of Glendale. All I have to say is thank God for System of a Down!
So what’s this Naughty Show all about?
I really wanted to put a show together that just goes for the jugular and causes total chaos! Honestly, I think comedy has become too safe and predictable, and I want to change that. The Naughty Show has everything from adult-film stars, such as Penny Flame and Belladonna, to amazing standup comics and some of the most insane audience-participation segments ever.
You got the crap beaten out of you by professional fighter Rampage — was that a good idea?
Hell, yeah. I mean, how many people can say they fought the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World? Plus I learned two valuable things about myself that day. First, I’m not a pro athlete. Second and most important, I wouldn’t last long in prison!
Planning any more stunts like that?
In this economy, without a doubt. If some guy with a camera said, “Hey, dude, I’ll give you a couple grand if you run over there and kickbox that tranny hooker!” I would be like, “Give me the cash, tell my mother I love her and let’s rock and roll!”
Does your act have a “Margaritaville” — a bit that your fans demand you do?
Yeah, it’s a bit I call “A Salute to America!” and I created it during my USO Tour in Afghanistan. Basically, at the end of my performance, I show my support for our troops by motorboating women’s boobs while an audience member sings the “Star Spangled Banner”! GOD BLESS AMERICA!
If you had your own reality show à la Kathy Griffin, what would be some of the highlights of your average day?
It would start with me updating all my social-networking pages on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Adultfriendfinder.com. Then I would attempt to O.D. on caffeine, coffee and Red Bulls! Because there’s nothing like doing nothing really fast! Then I look at my phone to see who has called, and if I don’t owe them money or I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have gotten them pregnant, I call them back and make up some shit about how awesome my career is going. I think my reality show would fit nicely on the Public Access channel, right after the show that stars the homeless lady in a wheelchair who gets up and dances. Total hour of power, Tripoli and wheels, kiss my ass 30 Rock and The Office!
You are hilarious with man-on-the-street interviews. You actually asked two Latina women how they enjoy being Mexican. Do you ever get into trouble for comments like that?
Nah, it’s just comedy, seriously, they’re just jokes. Plus I really got nothing but love for everyone, except for when I’m driving and stuck in traffic. Trust me, you could put the Dalai Lama on the 405 and after he’s gone 10 feet in an hour I guarantee you he’d start flipping everyone off! I don’t think that if you make fun of someone, that means you hate them; it’s just observations. Plus, I love Mexican girls, they are sexy, passionate women and they lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ve to bone in the car.
If you could never leave one block in L.A., where would it be?
I love Hollywood Boulevard because it’s like a human safari. I mean where else could you take a picture with Superman who has man boobs! Plus they’ve got pizza slices the size of boat sails, and that makes me tingle in my happy places!
What do you do all day when you’re on the road?
Wish I was home!
The Naughty Show at the Melrose Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood; Thurs., April 9, 10 p.m.; $14. (323) 651-2583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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