GO LA: Lebowski, Tom Arnold and Other Big Events
FRIDAY, MAY 8
Before Southern California was colonized by imperious human beings whose primary achievements are conceiving new ways to re-tell trite stories that waste celluloid, navigate vehicles that destroy the environment, or simply shopping maul the landscape for profit, indigenous people with a flourishing culture inhabited the area (along with the rest of the continents called the Americas). The 14th annual Northern Southern Winds Pow-Wow celebrates that same pre-conquistador, pre-auto, pre-mogul culture for three days, and Native Americans and guests gather in friendship to honor traditions that extend back many centuries. One of the central rituals of these traditions are contests in which dancers bedecked in fantastically colored plumage and costume compete to the sound of “drum singers” (who literally sing and drum for the contestants). Apparently Deadheads did not invent drum circles and there will be reserved moments for the spectators to participate and shake, rattle and roll. There’s even a “switch dance” for men in women’s regalia and vice-versa, speaking to a certain open-mindedness absent from the colonial world. More than 40 vendors will sell arts and crafts and food, including Indian fry bread, tamales, tacos and roasted corn. The third day of the festival falls on Mother’s Day and given that one of the pow-wow’s themes is “Honoring Our Mothers,” any mom who shows up will be showered with “flowers, treats, and special dances!” Los Angeles State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St.; Fri., May 8, 6-9 p.m.; Sat., May 9, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., May 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (323) 377-3523, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or www.nosowinds.org.
Linians? Is That You?
In yet another one of their riveting inroads into the insularity of the human imagination, the Panorama presents “The Cognomic Theory of the Antarctic Interior” a journey to the center of the dearth — Antarctica, to be precise, and the supposed realm of Linia that existed (or exists) in its wintry wastes. The premise: Giuseppe Cognomi, lost at sea, returned to a truly and duly skeptical 18th-century world with news of the fantastical Linians — a hidden civilization living by a sea in a heretofore undiscovered country below everything at the bottom of the planet. Though science has proved this to be positively fabulous as an assertion — like Earths Flat and Hollow before and after Cognomi — a devoted few have kept the flag of Linia flying, having championed his stories and created a schedule of dioramas (hello science class) about life, culture and time in the strange land to better illustrate what many — possibly Linia included — would rather believe did not exist. Lyman Emery, director of the Society for Linian Studies and exhibition curator, holds much in common with the Museum of Jurassic Technology with his chosen field of geographic inquiry, so expect Asperger-level attention to detail and presentation as well as a Gandalf-level scope of creativity and magic when it comes to this could-be world that, like most great art, need not exist solely on film or canvas to fire up a flight of fancy that turns a good afternoon into a great one. Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 W. 24th St.; open Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; through Aug. 9; free. (213) 746-2166.
Okay, Everybody, All Together, Now: “Shomer Fucking Shabbos!”
One has to wonder what Jeff Lebowski would think of Lebowski Fest. We’re not talking about the Jeff who inspired the character (Dowd) or the Jeff who played the role (Bridges); both have appeared at the fests. But the actual fictional Jeff Lebowski, the onscreen embodiment of the word “slouch” who endures beatings, endangers his member and takes direction from an affected Vietnam vet on a quest to simply get back his beloved rug. He’d likely require a couple white Russians to make it through the Thursday screening; the film records a tumultuous — the tumultuous? — period in his life, and he’s likely put quite a few jibbers between now and those anxious days. But he’d settle down the next night at the bowling party, his mind eased by the percussive soundtrack of balls hitting pins. He’d probably rather bowl than carouse with the legion of costumed enthusiasts who will be there, reciting lines and debating arcana the way only Big Lebowski cultists can. So if you see him at a lane off to the side, it’d be best to just let the man roll. Screening, preceded by Yuto Miyazawa: the Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs., May 7, 7 p.m.; $20. Bowling party: Cal Bowl, 2500 Carson St., Lakewood; Fri., May 8, 9 p.m.; $27.50. www.lebowskifest.com.
SATURDAY, MAY 9
My Oh Mayo!
Judging by the event flier — two bra-less babes wearing see-through tank tops in a sexual embrace — this year’s lesbian singles event will be a steamy one. Launched by a group of girlfriends in 1999, Single de Mayo, an annual festive bash, aims to bring women and transgender men together in a safe environment, conducive to mingling and drinking in the free spirit of Cinco de Mayo. Proceeds from the non-profit event benefit organizers, Jewish Queers International, a freshly blossoming group slighted by a wilting economy and donor pull outs. Heated over recent Prop. 8 battles, JQ advocates that being Jewish and queer are not mutually exclusive and welcome women of all religious denominations, shapes and sizes. Politics aside, these girls can throw a hell of a party. Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Sat., May 9, 2-7 p.m.; $20 in advance, $25 at door. www.singledemayo.com.
Maybe Not an Outing for Mother's Day Weekend
Putting the “fucking” back into their “Holy Fucking Shit” series of cracked celluloid, CineFamily presents a series of screenings devoted to films involved with the most sincerely “interesting” pursuits of sexual intercourse, guaranteed to land smack in your spam folder should you ever try to e-mail your friends about the pulse-pounding, spine-shattering lineup. It all begins May 9 with Michael Mak’s truly warped and sensual 1991 category III (adults only) Hong Kong film Sex & Zen, in which Amy Yip marries a horny scholar who gets a horse penis transplant to better pleasure the women he seduces; she becomes a courtesan in a whorehouse and follows her own sexual star and it all ends in tears, surprise surprise. Subsequent shows include the late Gerard Damiano’s literally softcore all-puppet 1976 porn Let My Puppets Come. Giving new meaning to the term “handjob,” the 41-minute film has puppet and human actors dealing with the mob and how to pay them; popular themes throughout Damiano’s filmmaking career.
Also: Revenge of the Cheerleaders (May 23), and the absolutely beautiful Talking Genitals double feature on May 30: “Pussy Talk” and “Chatterbox” (both 1977). In the French-made Pussy Talk, the lovely Joëlle finds that her “vagin” has begun to speak and urge her to do unspeakably sexual things with friends and strangers; in 1977’s Chatterbox, the late Candice Rialson’s vagina talks and sings and shocks both the usually unshockable Rip Taylor and Professor Irwin Corey. That these movies might make you swear off sex entirely is a chance you’ll have to take — because that’s fucking, and it’s not always as romantic as all that. Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theater, 611 N. Fairfax Ave.; every Sat. in May, 10 p.m.; $10 per screening. (323) 655-2510.
Jacaranda: Music on the Edge of Santa Monica brings its 2008-2009 season to a spectacular close with Signals on High, “The Grand Finale of the OM Century.” OM, of course, refers to Olivier Messiaen, whose career and influence Jacaranda has been celebrating all year long. And this concert is indeed grand, featuring more than 150 performers and an ambitious program that’ll give you enough OM to chew on for a long, long time. In the evening’s highlight, Jacaranda’s superb instrumentalists join forces with members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Verdi Chorus and award-winning youth choirs in the U.S. premiere of Messiaen’s Song of the Deported, a work commemorating the liberation of the concentration camps that was commissioned by Radio France in 1945. This is only the second performance in 64 years of Chant des Deportes, which was believed lost until a journalist rediscovered it in 1991. Messiaen’s mystic spirituality is also evident in Et Expecto Resurrectionem (And I Expect the Resurrection of the Dead); Eclairs sur L’au-Dela (Flashes from the Beyond); Un Sourire (A Smile); and the L.A. premieres of Abide in Love and the composer’s final piano concerto, La Ville d’en Haut (City on High), with Grammy-winning soloist Gloria Cheng. Works by composers heavily influenced by Messiaen’s ideas of synthesis and mysticism are also featured, including Toru Takemitsu’s Day Signal and Night Signal from Signals from Heaven (L.A. premiere) and Arvo Part’s stunning Magnificat. Barnum Hall, 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., May 9, 8 p.m.; $35, $15 students. (213) 483-0216 or jacarandamusic.org.
—Mary Beth Crain
Bidding in the Name of Art
It’s round two of the spring art auctions, and a leaner but feisty MOCA steps into the ring with FRESH. Featuring work donated by some 250 artists, including Barbara Kruger, Andrea Zittel, Marnie Weber and Marlene Dumas (don’t worry, there are the usual big-deal dudes, too), FRESH is a good party, a swirling sea of pencil-armed patrons vying for some very collectible pieces. So what if Tobey Maguire outbids everyone for all the best pieces? You go, movie/art boy! Good food and drink is the norm, but what has been missing in the past should be fully present, as this year’s musical entertainment, Prince pal DJ Rashida, brings some much-needed heat (both aural and visual) to the Geffen.
FRESH prices are on the high side, with opening bids ranging from $400 to $15,000, but no museum will appreciate your generosity more than MOCA this year. Still, if it’s too much, there’s another arts organization that will gladly take your money, and much less of it: Center for the Arts Eagle Rock holds its 7th annual art auction tonight as well, and although the quality is not close to FRESH level, a number of prominent artists traditionally support this small and worthy institution. Bargains may be had. MOCA FRESH at the Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., May 9, 7–11 p.m. Tickets are $85 in advance; $100 at the door. Public preview May 2-8, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (213) 633-5381 or moca.org/auction. Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; Sat., May 9, 7–10 p.m.; $40 for nonmembers by May 1; $50 at the door. (323) 226-1617, ext. 5621 or email@example.com. Public preview May 4–8.
While the movie Milk reintroduced gay icon Harvey Milk to the world, it’s also brought much-deserved attention to the people who worked with the San Francisco supervisor before he was assassinated. Longtime gay-rights activist Cleve Jones, for example, has become a household name in the gay community, and now photographer Daniel Nicoletta, who was also portrayed in the film, will have his first solo exhibition, Daniel Nicoletta: Harvey Milk and the San Francisco Scene. Back in the day, Nicoletta worked at Milk’s camera shop in the Castro district and took numerous photographs of Milk as he rose to power. Those candid shots will be featured at his L.A. show. Nicoletta, who advised and assisted Milk director Gus Van Sant and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Lance Black, also snapped photographs on the Milk movie set, and they, too, will be on display. The exhibition will run through June 20, but opening night on May 9 will undoubtedly be a hot ticket. Sat., May 9, 7-10 p.m., Overtones Gallery, 12703 Venice Blvd., L.A. (310) 915-0346 or www.overtonesgallery.com. Through June 20.
—Patrick Range McDonald
Everything's Better in Santa Monica!
Ah, Santa Monica — where the air is cleaner, the waves are tasty, the pubs are jumping, and nobody can afford to live there. For one day each year, we can all pretend we’re SaMo-ians and enjoy the big free offering that is the Santa Monica Festival. It’s as cross-cultural as ever, with entertainment by pop band the Little Ones, AguaLibre’s Afro-Latin sounds, the percussion performance art group known as Glank, and uplifting dance music from Zimbabwe and Latin America by Masanga Marimba. Local restaurants provide the food, and there are loads of art workshops, including the popular “re:Fashion Workshop” with hot costumer Ann Closs-Farly where families can make fab frocks from paper bags, and show it off on the catwalk. Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., May 9, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; free. (310) 458-8350.
SUNDAY, MAY 10
El Vez Loves His Madre
To heck with brunch this Mother’s Day. Instead, Mommy wants her Mexican Elvis. Luckily, El Vez is back in his hometown. Who knew? Playing a warm-up show before heading off on a tour of Spain, where El Vez/Robert Lopez is a beloved figure. Says longtime El Vette Crissy Guerroro, “The current show is about half old favorites — some of which, we haven’t done in years — and half new songs. Of course, they will all be sprinkled with that simple but genius blend that is El Vez. We like to call him our musical idiot savant. Robert is a walking, talking, hip-shaking, pelvis-thrusting, crooning encyclopedia of rock music. El Vez does have a very strong European fan base. Aside from the mere spectacle of an El Vez show, they seem to really understand the politics of his lyrics and intentions. He may be singing of the plight of the Mexican-American and of Latino immigrants, but even the Europeans seem to relate to the economic and racial struggles we sing about. The Spaniards are particularly in tune to all this because of their current climate. Besides, they find the whole Mexican thing fascinating, since they are the Mother-Land of Latinos.
El Vez (and El Vette!) groupies are the same there as anywhere — a little obsessive, possessive, and awestruck. But, maybe a little more socio-politically aware than, say, a Justin Timberlake fan.” Thanks for doing my job for me Crissy! Spaceland, 1717 Silverlake Blvd., Silver Lake; Sun., May 10, 8:30 p.m.; $14. www.clubspaceland.com.
Mom, We Love You. Now Go Put on Comfy Clothes
How’s this for a Mother’s Day she’ll love? Assemble a delectable picnic; chill a bottle of something bubbly, point the car toward Topanga Canyon and celebrate California spring in the halcyon grounds surrounding Theatricum Botanicum. Best known for its summer Shakespeare productions, the theater opens its al fresco theater for Momentum Place, an afternoon emphasizing, but not exclusively devoted to, contemporary dance. Curated by choreographer/dancer Lexi Pearl, the festival is a give back. As a child, Pearl was entranced with the theater nestled in the canyon and danced along the seats terraced into the hillside. She later pursued more formal dance studies and stints with companies like Diavolo Dance Theater. For this matinee, Pearl has recruited members from Josie Walsh’s MYOKYO Dance Company, Cirque Berzerk, Crazy Danks Marching Band and the Shakespearean sounding Eye of Newt Circus. While the railroad tie benches of Pearl’s youth have been replaced by more conventional seating, the rustic setting is best enjoyed in comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sun., May 10, 2 p.m.; $20, $15 students & seniors, $10 children 12 and under. (310) 455-2322 or www.theatricum.com.
MONDAY, MAY 11
Steve and Dave, Ramblin’ Guys
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture,” a wise man once said. That man was Steve Martin, who is pretty damn funny. He’s also a skilled banjo player and has agreed to show how it’s done at Steve Martin’s Big Bad Banjo and a Conversation with Dave Barry, a benefit for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. “I am very excited to raise money for the Los Angeles Public Library and plan to try to keep it all,” commented Martin in one of the drier-witted press releases to come from the library. Martin will perform songs from The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, which is No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. He’ll sit down with humorist Dave Barry, who says, “In today’s economy, we need to support our public libraries. And when you say ‘public library,’ the phrase that immediately comes to mind is ‘banjo music.’ So I’m really looking forward to asking Steve Martin probing questions about his new album, such as: WHY?” The event launches the the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ Aloud at L.A. Live series. Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., dwntwn.; Mon., May 11, 8 p.m.; $25-$250. (213) 480-3232.
TUESDAY, MAY 12
Don’t Try This at Home! Or Do! It’s Your Choice!
First, she made a documentary called The Business of Being Born, in which she gave birth in her bathtub at home. Now labor-and-delivery know-it-all Ricki Lake has written Your Best Birth, with Abby Epstein, called “a wonderful and constructive approach to ensuring an optimal birthing experience.” You know what my idea of an optimal birthing experience is? Ether — and keep it coming, like many of our mothers enjoyed while working a bowling ball out of their vagina. And yes my childbirth tell-all, My Placenta or Yours, will be out this fall and comes with an at-home epidural kit and post-birth martini shaker in either blue or pink! Lake and Epstein read and talk contractions. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues., May 12, 7 p.m.; free, book is $22.99. (310) 659-3110.
Make Mine a Double Reed
The oboe is one of those persnickety instruments which, when not played just right, can inspire thoughts of either homicide or suicide, but which, in the hands of a true virtuoso, emits such a hauntingly pure sound that it takes your breath away. It also takes away the breath of the oboist, who basically has to have lungs of steel to play this notoriously difficult member of the woodwind family. The oboe’s design is the culprit; it’s made of three interlocking wooden tubes, each of which has its own intricate arrangement of keys that generate various pitches. The sound is created by forcing air into the tiny opening of a delicate double reed, one-tenth the thickness of a piece of paper. As Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal oboe Katherine Needleman once politely observed, “There’s only about a millimeter difference between sounding good and sounding like shit.” Well, one oboist who never sounds like the latter is Allan Vogel, and this week, he and his virtuoso baroque ensemble Bach’s Circle — also featuring flutist Janice Tipton, violinist Elizabeth Baker, bassoonist Julie Feves, cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick and harpsichordist Patricia Mabee — celebrate 250 years of Georg Frideric Handel’s legacy with a program of works for oboe, flute and other instruments by Handel, Vivaldi and Bach. REDCAT, Tues., May 12, 8:30 p.m.; $20, $16 students. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 13
Eric Bogosian and His Big Heart
Who once said, “If we all lived to be 25, and we all knew we were going to die on that day, who could say what would be the right thing to do up to that point?” That Eric Bogosian can really make you think about life and stuff. The multi-award-winning author and actor has a new novel, Perforated Heart, set in New York City in the ’70s. He’s reading all over town this week. At this ALOUD event, he’ll talk with writer Jerry Stahl. He’ll also take questions. Ask him if he ever gets mistaken for Juan Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter. Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Wed., May 13, 7 p.m.; resv. recommended: libraryfoundationla.org. Also at Book Soup, Thurs., May 14; Vromans, Fri., May 15; Skylight Books, Sat., May 16. See Readings.
THURSDAY, MAY 14
Tom Arnold: Laughing With the Stars
Tom Arnold’s back where he started, doing standup, bringing top comics and maybe a celebrity pal along. His publicist wouldn’t let us ask him a “Fuck/Marry/Kill” question — which might be just as well, because the dude can TALK. —L.M.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why return to standup? Aren’t you too famous for that?
TOM ARNOLD: Being famous is a double-edged sword. The audience kind of knows you, so they give you a grace period, but after that you’d better be funny. It’s humbling and you can’t get away with using those killer jokes you did in the ’80s about living in a one-bedroom Minneapolis apartment with six guys, six couches, six remotes and six bongs . although, in the darkest part of my mind I’m pretty sure I’ll end up back there. Only without the bongs and we’ll be sharing a remote with dead batteries.
In my head, I’ve never stopped doing standup, but I was lazy, quit working the clubs. I didn’t want to do this because I thought I’m an actor, 60 films, it’s a step backwards, yada, yada, yada, but truth be told, I was scared shitless that I would fail the audience. Thankfully, I’ve had the backup of a lot of young, funny comics while I decide if I have to talk about my first marriage in my act, since it ended more than 15 years ago, or if the crowd was too young to remember. So far, it’s 50-50.
Letterman loves you, and he started as a standup — do you think you would make a good successor?
When I think of the biggest honors of my career, I realize how lucky I’ve been. First job — writer on Roseanne. First scene in a movie — Dustin Hoffman and me hosting SNL three times, Peabody, Golden Globe, lots of Razzies for balance, but nothing compares to the two times I was asked to fill in for Dave when he was sick. Would I be a good successor? If I worked really hard and was surrounded by extraordinary people, I would never be even close to what he is but . I also think I’d be as good or better than most anyone else I’ve seen. I spent four years interviewing athletes and they can be tough interviews, plus I understand what a good talk show guest brings and the grind, importance of writers, crew, finding your own voice and then hoping people want to hear it.
Would you ever do a reality show, like Kathy Griffin? What surprising thing would we learn about you?
As far as having cameras 24-7 or whatever Kathy does.I think it helps if you’re cool or wasted or have a bunch of hot sisters, none of which I am or have.
I have been offered “Celebrity” this or “Celebrity” that, but the celebrity part scares me. Although, I love that Jesse James is on Celebrity Apprentice. Before he was president of NBC, Ben Silverman and I lived in the same building for a couple years on Ocean Avenue and I heard that Ben and his old partner Howard, our other buddy, were trying to find me to do a show for NBC called Celebrity Cook-off or some shit. But I can’t fucking cook! No problem, my other friend, Wolfgang Puck would do all the real cooking. Cut to theater in the round, so much noise my Asperger’s kicks in and I cannot even read the menu . it’s me, Miss USA and Big from Big and Rich, who was smart enough to include high alcohol content liqueurs in his menu and he’s so wasted he’s fallen down, hard. Anyway, while perfect Miss USA prepares her healthy . whatever, I am sweating all over my miniburgers, my coat had the mic in it so . and as the overhead camera reveals, I cut the end of my finger off so now there’s sweat and blood on my food. The esteemed panel of food critics could not see this but they heard the massive groan from the audience when they bit into my apparently extra-rare beef. Then came the judging and I almost won, which would’ve meant coming back. I’m sure it was good television because it was a dark moment in my life ... so to answer your question, yes, I would do a reality show if it was funny, made the world a better place and the money was right.
People would be surprised that I’m taller and not as fat as they thought. That’s what happens when you do a sports show with 7-foot-tall black guys. I also hear “I’m really surprised . you’re nice.” Well, yeah, of course I’m nice and if I’m not tell me, so I can make amends. I’m always surprised when people are mean to me. It’s so stupid. We need each other!
Do you secretly enjoy the paparazzi?
I must. I always feel the need to “entertain” them. Fifteen to 20 years ago was a different story. Especially before I got sober. Living a lie is hard enough without those bastards lurking around but the truth is, sadly, the embarrassment of public humiliation was one of the reasons I went back into rehab . I mean, I still do embarrassing things but I do less of them because I’m sober, which allows me to feel things . like shame, humiliation, self-hate . sprinkle in some gratitude and flickers of joy and you’ve got my typical morning.
Proust section, à la Vanity Fair: When and where is your idea of perfect happiness?
Anytime, anywhere my gal Ashley starts laughing uncontrollably . I usually have no idea why but it’s infectious and the next thing you know we both have tears in our eyes, laughing like idiots and when she finally does start to explain whatever was funny the whole cycle starts up again. She can’t tell me because she’s laughing so hard she’s choking and fanning her face. That’s my bliss.
What is the most despondent you’ve ever been?
At 4:15 a.m. on Oct 10, 1981. I was drunk, naked, sitting in the Wapello County Jail. I had just been fired from my job at the Hormel meat packing plant, charged with public nudity after being arrested while streaking through the Jefferson Square Manor (an old folks’ home) in Ottumwa, Iowa. The sheriff had just told me, with his shit-eating grin, that my old man would be down with some clothes. — I was completely naked, surrounded by bad-ass railroad gypsies — as soon as he mowed the back 40. The same back 40 I’d promised to mow the day before.
That and 3:15 p.m., March 6, 2009, my 50th birthday. I’d just gotten my mail and my AARP card was in it and realized I’d blown everything. That my life was one failure after another and worst of all. I’ve had every opportunity to succeed. My life was at least half over and I’d screwed up the dream I had since I was 4 and my mom left: Wife and Kids = Unconditional Love. But, unfortunately, Ashley doesn’t let me wallow in it too long. “You’ve got me.” “I know, I’m so fucking lucky but you’re screwed. You should’ve got me when I was 30” and then she started uncontrollably laughing and so did I. I think it was because we both realized that I was kind of a crazy idiot at 30 and she was ... 12, so maybe this was God’s plan after all. I’ll ask her what’s so funny when she quits crying.
Tom Arnold at the Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; every Thurs., 8 p.m.; $20. (323) 656-1336, Ext. 1.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.