GO LA: Mort Sahl, Ziggy Marley and Everything In Between
FRIDAY, MAY 1
Vivaldi Gone Wild!
Beyond the tutus and pointe shoes of the “Royal” ballet companies, European cities nurture (and fund) an array of smaller, contemporary-ballet ensembles like Ballet Preljocaj, led by inventive choreographers who take audacious delight in challenging dancers to move in imaginative productions that deconstruct classical ballets and classical music. In the ’70s, Maurice Bejart’s stunning Firebird was a parable of insurgent spirit rising phoenixlike from the ashes of a fallen guerrilla leader. In 1985, Maguy Marin reconceived Cinderella with the dancers as dolls complete with porcelain facemasks. In the ’90s, Mats Ek envisioned the maid as the heroine in The Nutcracker, and Matthew Bourne transformed Swan Lake into a riff on dysfunctional royal families, with a male swan corps in feathered knickers. Add to that list Angel Preljocaj, who is best known here for his version of Romeo and Juliet, set in a post-Bladerunner world where love is not just romantic euphoria but an act of rebellion against a culture of robotic uniformity. Robotic movement is part, but only a small part, of Preljocaj’s Les 4 Saisons (yes, Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons), which is the calling card for Ballet Preljocaj’s performances at two local venues. Premiered in Paris in 2005, Les 4 Saisons blends objects dangling above and some falling onto the stage, fluorescent-green frogs, men costumed in sponges, and a bit of nudity. Some whimsy mixed into a 21st-century reconsideration of the familiar 18th-century musical classic. UCLA Royce Hall, Westwood; Fri.-Sat., May 1-2, 8 p.m.; $28-$54. (310) 825-2101 or www.uclalive.org. Also at Cal State Long Beach, Carpenter Center, 6200 Atherton St.; Tues., May 5, 8 p.m.; $50, $45 students & seniors. (562) 985-7000 or www.carpenterarts.org.
Ultrasexy Big International Event
If you go to www.gumball3000.com, you can watch the second-by-second countdown to Gumball 3000, which the organizers have planned “so that it does not clash with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival, two events that many of our clientele regularly attend.” In the past, the Gumball Rally has covered Europe, North America, North Africa and Asia. This year’s event starts in L.A., so you can gather to cheer on the 120 cars as they rev off on an eight-day, 3,000-mile drive to Miami. Here’s the press poop: “Some say it’s a modern-day version of the infamous 1970s Burt Reynolds Cannonball Run movies, and we have to agree that it does share similarities, attracting the most eccentric group of thrillseekers imaginable, from vintage to modern supercars, and from rock stars and sheiks to the simple car enthusiast.” Are you thinking what I’m thinking? (Pssst: Eurotrash.) The event is run by Maximillion Cooper, who lists “artist, fashion designer, film director, racing driver and skateboarder” as occupations. You can enter the rally for $44,000! Celebs jump on and off at various points. David Hasselhoff comes aboard at some point, and Motörhead’s Lemmy will be at the starting line to climb aboard the Fuel Girls’ jalopy for the leg to Las Vegas. Who are the Fuel Girls? “Kickass, ultrasexy, fire-breathing rock & roll, dance and stunt” gals from the U.K. — in their handpainted 1960 Cadillac De Ville. I would love to know what’s going to go on in that back seat. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; Fri., May 1, cars on display all day Fri.; cars leave Sat., May 2, 1 p.m.; www.gumball3000.com.
The Musical Stylings of Mr. Stephen Lynch
Stephen Lynch might be the funniest guy ever nominated for a Tony Award (The Wedding Singer). He’s keeping the art of the comedy song alive with his fourth CD, 3 Balloons. —L.M.
L.A. WEEKLY: You use a lot of naughty language for a clean-cut guy — are you a secret sicko?
LYNCH: I am the Ted Bundy of comedy.
Does your act have a “Margaritaville” — a song your audience would be crushed if you didn’t perform?
I have many “Margaritavilles.” Probably my most requested songs are “Lullaby,” “Beelz” and “Grandfather.” Also, my cover version of “Margaritaville.”
You are the son of a former nun and a former priest? How fucked up are you?
Fortunately, the nun and priest were normal people and good parents, so not too fucked up. Well, a little fucked up. Hail Satan.
What do you like to do when in L.A.?
Go to San Francisco.
Are you one of those New Yorkers who feels superior to us?
I’m from Detroit, so I feel superior to no one.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Lionel Richie, obviously.
If you had a catch phrase, what would it be?
“That’sa spicy meatball!” No, wait. “Hell’s bells!” No, wait. “It’s already been broughten!” Yeah, the last one.
What do you do all day when you’re on the road?
I spend most of my time in hotel rooms, where I eat room service, watch movies and write in my red-velvet, unicorn-themed man-journal.
Proust section, à la Vanity Fair: When and where is your idea of perfect happiness?
Asleep in Lionel Richie’s moustache, dreaming of cotton candy and singing “Margaritaville.”
What is the most despondent you’ve ever felt?
The captain wired in he had water coming in, and the good ship and crew was in peril. Later that night when his lights went out of sight, came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Where do you go to be alone?
A Tone Loc concert.
Stephen Lynch at The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri., May 1, 8 p.m.; $29.50. (213) 480-3232.
SATURDAY, MAY 2
Gary Had a Little Man
According to artist Gary Baseman’s bio: “Mr. Baseman’s work is Surreal. Innocent. Lustful. Honest. Everywhere.” Not to mention “Enjoyed. By. Seven. Year. Olds.” For the opening of La Noche de la Fusion, expect “a Carnivalesque festival celebrating the beauty of the bittersweetness of life,” with dancers in costumes designed by Basemen, plus custom-made silk banners and lanterns from Thailand. You can meet his new character, the Enlightened Chou, which Baseman describes as resembling “my ChouChou character, only he has three more ChouChou heads on top of his head. It’s all part of fusing these different cultures and ideas together.” See interpretations of the Enlightened Chou by artists from Thailand, India, Mexico, Brazil and Russia, and other Americans. Oh, and new paintings, too. Guests are encouraged to come in costume as their “true fantastic self.” Corey Helford Gallery, 8522 Washington Blvd., Culver City. May 2-23. Reception Sat., May 2, 6:30-10 p.m. (310) 287-2340.
Art Is a Mystery: Discuss
If it’s May, it’s Incognito time. The fifth annual benefit art sale for the Santa Monica Museum of Art is the first of the season’s art auctions, and with some 500 works from 400 artists, a bargain at $300 a pop. But in case you’ve somehow missed it in the past, here’s what makes Incognito so fun: The artworks are signed only on the back, so when you buy, you don’t know who you’re buying. (Unless, of course, you know — but don’t be so sure, a lot of well-known artists are pretty good at disguising their work, or simply doing something a little different.) And then there’s the near-purity of it: You’re buying because you actually like the piece, not because of the artist’s name or value. Only “near” purity because, let’s face it, we’re all hoping the name turns out to be Ruscha or Baldessari or Pettibon or Antin. But it’s just as cool to discover an up-and-coming artist you’ve never heard of by taking his or her piece home and hanging it on your wall. And there are many, many seriously great artists participating who can be called neither Ruscha nor up-and-coming. All this suspense going on, with good food and drink, and the knowledge that you’re supporting an institution we’re fortunate to have, and want to keep healthy. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Bergamot Station G1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., May 2; tickets start at $100; early purchase recommended as availability is limited. (310) 586-6488 or www.smmoa.org/index.php/programs/group/0/2.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Goofy Overhead Smash
Swedish world tennis champ Mats Wilander once said, “He’ll never beat Roger Federer unless he becomes a little more aggressive.” Only a true tennis fanatic would know he was talking about Lleyton Hewitt, but even the most casual observer would know that the advice certainly wouldn’t apply to Will Ferrell, who has gamely stepped up to the baseline for The Global Tennis Showdown, a benefit for the Swedish School of Los Angeles and the Sweden House, where Wilander and Ferrell will smash and lob for a good cause. After the match, watch the Dan Band pay disrespect to songs you once loved. A barbecue dinner and live and silent auctions await big spenders. Los Angeles Tennis Center, UCLA, Westwood; Sat., May 2, 4-9 p.m.; $25 tennis only; $100 includes dinner. (888) 369-9909 or www.globaltennisshowdown.com.
Remember When Barcamp Meant “Bar Camp”?
From treatises on “Sandwich Making” to panels on “Lock Picking,” BarCampLA is not your traditional snore-inducing tech conference. It’s the ultimate “unconference,” where all attendees are encouraged to contribute in some way, by either making a presentation, giving a demo, running a session or helping out with one (just post your topic on the handy white boards provided!). A spinoff of Web 2.0 guru Tim O’Reilly’s FooCamp, the name “BarCamp” has its etymology in the hacker term “foobar,” which represents an unknown value. Taking off on this concept, co-organizer Chris Darbro emphasizes that BarCampLA is a place where you can “make it what you want, share what you want, learn what you want,” a sort of à la carte user-generated conference. Founded in Palo Alto in 2005, and now held in hundreds of cities and countries, BarCamp is not just for hardcore techies. With attendees from as far away as Africa, South America and New York, Darbro asserts, “You don’t really need to be a tech person to get something out of it.” That “something” includes free drinks, snacks, and T-shirts for those bold enough to contribute and learn. Note: All presenters are responsible for making sure that notes/slides/audio/video of their presentations are published online for the benefit of all who attend, and for those who can’t be present. OTX Research, 10567 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City; Sat.-Sun., May 2-3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (with more after-hours fun on Sat.); free. barcampla.org or @barcampla on Twitter.
Warning: May Contain Bad Films
The only orphans associated with silent movies tend to be Little Rascals, or Jackie Coogan in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. This weekend, however, is all about orphaned films at the Orphans West Symposium. These are films that have no clear origin or ownership status, films that are experimental in nature, or home movies — basically, terminally unsexy corners of cinema that involve industry or banal slices of contemporary life appreciated practically everywhere else in the world but here. And yet there are fascinating flashes of brilliance over two days of screenings — a 1928 dedication of a new writers’ building on the Fox lot at which both Tom Mix and Leon Trotsky configure; the building of the Hollywood(land) sign in 1923; Linda Feferman’s 1974 Film on Menstruation, with on-the-street interviews on the subject with women — and men. There’s also a fairly startling screening of the inconsolably rare 1965 episode of the TV series Insight, titled “The Locusts Have No King” and starring William Shatner as a man who stands up against gangsters in his town, even over the levelheaded objections of wife Geraldine Brooks. Shatner had just come off making the Esperanto-language horror masterpiece Incubus, so you know his head was in an impressively weird place back then. There’s also 1920s footage from locales as far flung as Jerusalem, Cairo and Baghdad — if anything, these films unveil a world that once was, orphaned, as the years pass, only by the fading of memory, not of film. Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Sat.-Sun., May 2-3; $13 per screening; $65 festival pass. (323) 655 2510 or www.cinefamily.org/calendar/orphans.html.
SUNDAY, MAY 3
Ziggy Plays Guitar
As we’re fond of saying, most children’s music makes us want to throw ourselves under the wheels of the bus. Not Ziggy Marley’s sweet and uplifting reggae-ish tunes. Your kids may not care that Willie Nelson, Paul Simon and Jamie Lee Curtis sing on his latest children’s disc, Family Time, but this is definitely music that will get your whole clan to act like happy goofballs. Ziggy Marley has five children, and his famous father, Bob, counted 12 offspring, so those Marley men must know a thing or two about how to be a Fun Dad. Marley headlines Concert by the Canyon, an outdoor family music event that also features Latin and blues sounds by True Rhythm & Soul, Afro-Cuban group Locura Oscura, a petting zoo, arts and crafts and a bake sale. Cowan Avenue Elementary, 7615 Cowan Ave., Westchester; Sun., May 3, noon; $8, $5 in advance; under 12 free with an adult. (323) 296-9694.
America! What a Country!
The Santa Cecilia Orchestra’s final concert of the season, Coming to America, celebrates Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s infatuation with this country with a performance of — what else — his Symphony No. 9, a.k.a. “From the New World.” This work has been so done to death that it ought to be called “From the Over the Hill World.” But it’s also so rich with lush themes, Afro-American and Native American folk melodies and other Dvorakian enticements that ever since its 1893 premiere, it continues to go straight to the heart. The rest of the program, however, is even more interesting. It includes Carlos Chavez’s flavorful, powerful orchestration of baroque organ master Dietrich Buxtehude’s gorgeous Chaconne, and Rachmaninoff’s big endurance test, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, performed by International Prokofiev Competition Gold Medalist Robert Thies, a truly wonderful pianist with boundless energy and technique. These 28 variations (or is it 30? Scholars still debate the number) range from Bachian intricacy to soaring romantics, challenging the virtuoso on every level. Occidental College, Thorne Hall, 1600 Campus Rd., Eagle Rock; Sun., May 3, 4 p.m.; $20 & $26, $7 17 & under. (323) 259-3011 or www.scorchestra.org.
—Mary Beth Crain
Warning: The Vessel May Get Spiccato
Oh, I’ll take the highway and you take the freeway and I’ll get to Long Beach afore ye. ... It’s time once again for a ChamberMusic in Historic Sites concert aboard the RMS Queen Mary, the vessel King George V once called “the stateliest ship now in being.” Well, that was back in, what, the 1930s? But time can’t alter His Majesty’s gracious observation — the grand old dame of the ocean still reigns supreme in Long Beach Harbor, and this weekend the acclaimed American String Quartet performs its Beethoven Cycle No. 3 concert in the luxurious Queen’s Salon, a 4,600-square-foot monstrosity of a room reeking with Art Deco elegance, from its three golden-onyx fireplaces and its magnificent light fixtures to the rich parquet floors and priceless original art. Who wouldn’t brave the 405 on a Sunday to listen to an afternoon of Beethoven quartets, surrounded by such grace and grandeur? And of course, you can come early and tour the world’s most famous ocean liner, too, the perfect classical-music getaway. RMS Queen Mary, Queen’s Salon, Long Beach Harbor, Long Beach; Sun., May 3, 4 p.m.; $41-$49. (213) 477-2929 or www.dacamera.org.
MONDAY, MAY 4
The History of Euro-Trash
If you travel to Naples, in the Campania region, you can take a short trip and see the remains of Pompeii. In addition to being the site of Pink Floyd’s 1971 concert film Live at Pompeii, the ruins of Pompeii provide a fascinating look at high culture at the peak of the Roman Empire. If you take La Brea Avenue to Wilshire, you will be very close to Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of Naples, LACMA’s new exhibit of rare ancient works of art excavated from the destroyed homes of upper-crust Pompeiians, and neighbors from the nearby Bay of Naples. Boasts Michael Govan, LACMA CEO, and Wallis Annenberg, director, “Pompeii was a place where art and creativity flourished, where patrons and artists alike coalesced to form a thriving cultural hub — much like Los Angeles today.” Hot lava ahead? Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Mon.-Tues., Thurs., noon–8 pm; Fri., noon–9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed Wed.; May 3-Oct. 4; $12; students & seniors $8; 17 and under free. (323) 857-6000.
TUESDAY, MAY 5
Everybody in the Reflection Pool!
Portentous but never pretentious, the remote and insular visions of loneliness that manifest throughout Edward Walton Wilcox’s work are on full display in this overview of recent paintings. “When the anxieties of this world become too severe,” he admits, “I create for myself ... a reflection pool for the mind. It is there that I withdraw to the twilight fields and amber vistas of my dreams.” All right, maybe just a tad pretentious, but Wilcox has talent and imagination for miles, so he’s excused — besides, one rarely thinks of such timeless art coming from either the University of Florida or Juxtapoz. The eye swallows up his isolated apocalypses in miniature, which glow with burnished fury as houses go up in flames and twilit sleepwalkers find themselves in the middle of nowhere. In Wilcox’s spaces, no one can hear you scream — they just watch you do it in radiantly muted, sepia-toned slow motion. His images bring to mind that old Night Gallery episode in which Roddy McDowall’s painting of a cemetery changed every time he looked at it, until, one night — in the culmination of implications associated with suddenly empty graves — he hears a knock at his door. Wilcox’s work is a brilliant and romantic star hurtling through the same galaxy as fellow travelers Odd Nerdrum and Hieronymus Bosch, so if you like your aesthetic dread spiked with the imploding placid inevitable, then this is the art for you. Merry Karnowsky Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., Art 170 Bldg., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., noon-6 p.m., through May 23. (323) 933-4408 or www.mkgallery.com.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6
Darryl Strawberry’s high-leg kick and expansive swing are the purest, most beautiful in the history of baseball. With his bad-boy past — and oh, was he ever bad — behind him, Strawberry now spends much of his time with his DS Foundation for children with autism. That’s all swell and everything, but let’s hope Straw: Finding My Way has as much of the drugs, tax evasion, solicitation and allegations of domestic violence as the buddy-buddy Christ stuff. Because that’s what we want to hear from our heroes, right? Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., May 6, 5 p.m.(626) 449-5320.
THURSDAY, MAY 7
The description on the Comedy & Magic Club’s online calendar says it all: “The Legend returns to our Live at the Lounge Showroom. Show at 7:30. Doors open for dinner at 6:30.” And where some chucklehead’s wry-yet-introspective headshot would ordinarily rest, a floating robot noggin instead flashes an airborne question mark and frowns in dismay over the fact that no photo is available. See, Mort Sahl don’t need to available-ize no stinkin’ photo. He’s Mort friggin’ Sahl. If Mort Sahl wants to leave blank the space in which lengthy, slapped-together comic bios typically run down a list of laughable commercials and Law & Order appearances, Mort Sahl’s gonna do just that. If he wants his numerous credits all in-your-face and readily available — starting out in the ’50s at San Francisco’s legendary hungry i nightclub, popularizing newspaper-headline monologues, writing jokes for JFK, divorcing a Playboy Playmate, getting blacklisted for his edgy political humor, inspiring the likes of Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Chris Rock and George Carlin in their comedic endeavors, etc. — well, they will be. But Mort Sahl don’t need none of that. He’s always been a different breed, an icon of the counterculture, and his material still reflects it. When you see Mort Sahl, you see an old-school, no-holds-barred, downright legendary performer. Sure, you’ll laugh, but more important, you’ll think. And that’s just the way Mort Sahl likes it. Comedy & Magic Club, 1018 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach; Thurs., May 7, 7:30 p.m.; $20. (310) 372-1193.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.