Seven John Smiths, a Bob and a Bamford
FRIDAY, MAY 29
BACK TO BACK TO THE FUTURE
Amazingly, it’s been 20 years since Robert Zemeckis followed up 1985’s monster hit Back to the Future with sequels shot back to back, a method not seen again in blockbuster land until the Lord of the Rings (awesome) and Matrix (EPIC FAIL!) trilogies came along. In the role that made him a mega-star (and made fancying him guilt-free, if you’re a Democrat ... oh, Alex P. Keaton ... ), Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly and company sort of time-stumble their way through BTTF2, which despite some terrific future set pieces really only functions as a bridge between the damn-near-perfect ’50s-set original and the very, very good BTTF3, romping through in the Old West. Luckily, you’ll get multiple chances to watch the entire Back to the Future Trilogy straight through this weekend, courtesy of the mighty New Beverly (who are screening them twice, because the people there love flying DeLoreans that fucking much!) and American Cinematheque at the Aero. Do it, ’80s babies, it’s your density... we mean, your destiny. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 W. Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Fri. & Sat., May 29 & 30, 7:30 p.m.; $7; (323) 938-4038. Also at the American Cinematheque at the Aero, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., May 30, 5 p.m.; $10; (310) 260-1528.
TO BALDLY COMPOSE ...
Every year at this time, REDCAT seems to come up with another tribute to the whimsical legacy of microtonal pioneer Harry Partch. All his life, the American composer experimented with tones and instruments, leaving the standard chromatic and 12-tone scales in the dust as he soared into dimensions uncharted and luminously original. Partch became frustrated with the limitations and flaws of the Western system of musical tuning—which, he maintained, was woefully lacking when it came to reflecting the complex and subtle aspects of dramatic speech. So, he began building his own unique instruments, like the Monophone, or “Adapted Viola”; the Diamond Marimba, a marimba with keys arranged in a physical manifestation of the 11-limit tonality diamond; the Cloud Chamber Bowls, a set of pyrex bowls in a cloud chamber; the Zymo-Xyl, a xylophone enhanced with tuned liquor bottles and hubcaps; and a host of other ingenious creations that would have made zzMr. Wizard proud. Be prepared for a trip to sonic never-never land this weekend when composer John Schneider and his ensemble introduce a “fantastic array” of Partch’s otherworldly instruments in Partch DARK/Partch light, an exploration of the composer’s dual nature, from the zany “Yankee Doodle Fantasy,” “Two Settings from Finnegan’s Wake” and “O Frabjous Day!” to the brooding “Dark Brother” (a setting of Thomas Wolfe’s “God’s Lonely Man”) and the haunting “Eleven Intrusions.” REDCAT, 631 Second St., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., May 29-30, 8:30 p.m.; $25, student discounts available. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.
—Mary Beth Crain
The cover of Maria Bamford’s new CD/DVD shows the comic with her two pugs, both wearing blond wigs. How can you not love her?
L.A. WEEKLY: Congratulations on your new CD/DVD: Maria Bamford: Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome. Do I need to buy both?
BAMFORD: They come together! It’s 50 minutes of stand-up (audial) and 20 episodes of The Maria Bamford Show (visual), so, for $15, you’re getting a lot of laughy meaning.
If you had a catch phrase, what would it be?
“It’s all happening.” That means that whatever you’re visualizing, it’s happening — your Lear jet, your two-headed Snuggie, your deep contentment, your Medicines Sans Frontiers nutrition bar — is trotting toward you at 3 mph — so that it won’t hurt when it hits you head on.
Who do people say you look like?
This one girl I know who was trying to get into stand-up. No wait, that IS you. I used to work with you at Aramark Uniform Services in Burbank. How is that going? That’s great. Good for you. Huh. Well, good luck.
What’s hanging above your sofa?
Lots of California landscape paintings. No art with people or buildings trying to bring me down.
Where do you go to be alone?
The back of the airline gate where there’s area to crouch with a Diet Coke and notebook and make furtive calls to friends I don’t know the last names of.
Proust section, à la Vanity Fair: What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?
Being crunked out on a 60-ounce blended Mochacchino in the window seat without a pen.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Working on jokes with comedy friends (Jackie Kashian, Larry Vazeos, connecting with other comics, and end of the week of shows with a glass of milk and box of animal crackers. I also enjoy cool, windy days. And groups of people talking about their feelings in the now.
Your favorite virtue?
Compassion – it’s like pity, but without the rage. Like a marshmallow that’s not deepfried, sandwiched in chocolate or gourmet-flavored. All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtue.
Who would you like to be other than yourself?
I would have liked to be someone who’s described in People magazine as “risen from the ashes — like a toned, oiled, incisive Phoenix — the once-dowdy and insecure star is now coming out of her cocoon — like an elegant, moisturized, trenchant butterfly — who’s got her priorities in the right place. She says, “First, comes my spirituality, next, family and friends and lastly — comes career.” And that’s a huge transformation for this one-time-gold-medal-winner who once seemed to only think of Diet Coke, filth and compulsively signing up for UCLA online accounting courses. It’s like I was once a fetus or a pile of logs or something less formed and now I’m a baby or a log cabin or something more defined and acceptable.”
Maria Bamford at the Hollywood Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Fri., May 29, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 30, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.; $20. (323) 651-2583.
SATURDAY, MAY 30
THE ROTHMAN HOSTETH
Deathlessly brilliant skinhead/Abomination/Mr. Orange Tim Roth hosts the opening reception for Australian artist and L.A. transplant Kill Pixie (occasionally known as Mark Whalen) and his exhibition “I’ll Hit You Up Tomorrow.” About precisely what Pixie intends to hit me up for is up for debate, but judging from his art, that may have something to do with either freebasing Pepto-Bismol or that horrible old arcade game “Chiller,” in which the whole point was to use your controls to mutilate writhing corpses in torture chambers. Good shooting! With obtuse and ominous titles like “Persons and Machinery,” “After Dark” and “The Decision Maker,” Pixie’s acrylic-and-gouache visions stand cast in glossy resin, shot through with muted process colors that might as well be case notes from “Pimp My Sanatorium.” His work might best be viewed as an 8-bit chimera that comes off as Hieronymus Bosch by way of Hanna-Barbera; slightly sinister and deeply arcane, Pixie’s visions are fever dreams from a world of expired medication and withered black bananas, blowing your mind into smithereens like those tiny little balls in a Contac capsule that you never could put back in the shell after you’d opened one up. Also on hand at the opening: a collaborative installation between Pixie and local moody fuzz merchants Autolux, currently at work on “Transit Transit,” their second album in nine years. So why Tim Roth? Who cares! “Made in Britain” is one of the best violent films of the ’80s and that’s good enough for me. Merry Karnowsky Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through June 27; (323) 933-4408 or mkgallery.com.
DEM’S THE BREAKS
Underground hip-hop is alive and well. Following the success of events like Paid Dues and We the People, Attention Deficit presents The Breaks, a 10-hour festival of nonstop hip-hop and breakdancing. Featuring a $1,000 two-on-two B-Boy Battle. the event will feature performances by The Psycho Realm, DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, Planet Asia of Pain Language, Keith Murray, Killah Priest, Black Milk, Bronze Nazareth and more. An afternoon highlight will definitely be the reunion of Slum Village featuring Baatin, along with other special guests. East Los Angeles College, Weingart Stadium, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park; Sat., May 30, 12-10 p.m.; $40-$70; $30-$45 in advance; (877) 831-7294 or MySpace.com/thebreaksfestival.
HORSE & MOUTH DISEASE
The shroud of mystery surrounding Dark Night of the Soul, a new musical collaboration between master mixer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and rock recluse Sparkle Horse (Mark Linkous), has been mistaken for an actual cloud of publicists and lawyers. So much so, EMI indefinitely delayed the release of the album this week, a sleepy indie hit with a ton of superstar guest vocalists ( Julian Casablanca’s “Little Girl” is a standout) that reminds one of a Jason Bentley playlist. However, not to be mistaken for merely ostentatious packaging, the accompanying 100-page book is all photographs shot by filmmaker David Lynch, 50 of which will make their gallery debut at Michael Kohn on May 30. For those of us who look forward to Lynch’s movies, these images are a treat. Mounted on aluminum, they snap and crackle like the mind that composed them. They’re eerie and hopeful and dark and dreamy, recalling suburban barbecues at midnight, discarded objects (revolvers, electrical strips, people) and peeks around suspicious corners. Saturated colors, shadowy faces and hokey setups with an evil undercurrent are all iconic Lynchian themes included in this work of course, but in the frozen moments captured as still photography, Lynch’s subject matter transcends as it stares back at you. “Dark Night of the Soul” is again proof that art happens where and when it will, regardless of industry knuckleheads. You’ll hear the music accompany the visuals during the show as the project is meant to be — Lynch even sings on two of the tracks — and you can hear the album at NPR.org (take that, EMI!). The book will be available May 29 with a blank CD-R included for you to record your pirated internet find. Dark Night of the Soul, 2009, Michael Kohn Gallery, 8071 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; May 30–July 11; reception Sat., May 30, 5-7 p.m.; (323) 658-8088 or www.kohngallery.com.
NEW LAW: ALL PARENTS WHO NAMED THEIR CHILD “DYLAN” ARE REQUIRED TO CHANGE IT TO “ZIMMERMAN”
“No repeats.” That’s a promise from Andy Hill and Renee Safier, organizers of Dylan Fest — now in its 19th year! Hill and Safier’s band, Hard Rain, is the hourse band backing more than 60 musicians performing more than 60 Dylan songs over seven hours. The first Dylan Fest was held in Hill’s backyard and billed as a Bob Dylan birthday party. “An older neighbor brought a present for Bob, thinking he lived there,” recalls Safier, who has since moved the fest to a more spacious park. Goofiness is encouraged, she stresses: “The throwing of the Styrofoam rocks by the whole crowd during ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & #35’ is always a blast. The Dylan Kazoo Choir is fun.” Figure out how to be “Tangled Up in Blue” or “Farmer’s Daughter” and you’ll fit right in. Serious students of Bob will also appreciate the fact that, according to Hill, “Without consciously attempting it, the festival realizes the vast range of arrangement ideas reflected in Dylan’s career, intimate solo performances, small rock bands, a gospel band, acoustic ensembles and huge, electric composites. St. Anthony School, 233 Lomita St., El Segundo; Sat., May 30, 1-8 p.m.; $25, $20 in advance; $10 children under 12. www.andyandrenee.com.
SUNDAY, MAY 31
Few musical genres are more full-bodied than zarzuela. The Spanish art form, which originated in the 17th century at Palacio de la Zarzuela, King Philip IV’s hunting retreat outside Madrid, which was surrounded by zarzuela, or bramble bushes, is a combination of opera, melodrama, dance, theater and comedy that has had audiences laughing and crying for some 400 years now. The early baroque zarzuela, popular from about 1630 to the mid-1700s, was influenced by the mythology and rustic themes of Italian opera. By the mid-19th century, romanticism and nationalism found a new voice in zarzuela, which began utilizing popular Spanish jargon and idioms and centered around the controversial, realistic themes of revolution and passion both romantic and political. With its ornate Spanish baroque influences, downtown’s Million Dollar Theater provides the perfect setting for Chamber Music in Historic Sites’ final concert of their 2008-2009 season, when the ensemble El Mundo presents !Zarzuela! Led by stellar lutenist-guitarist Richard Savino, the “first rate band of minstrels” perform Sebastian Duron’s “Salir el Amor del Mundo” (“Cupid’s Final Folly”), along with other examples of zarzuela at its funniest and flashiest. Million Dollar Theater, 430 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Sun., May 31, 4 p.m.; preconcert talk at 3:30 p.m.; $41-$49. (213) 477-2929.
BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE SOCIAL/RACIAL STEREOTYPE
Why do we need a spoof of beauty pageants when the real thing provides so much unintentional humor, not to mention some real ugliness? Because it’s an endless source of humans at their worst! Here we have Paul Ryan’s Miss International Princess Pageant Variety Show. The event started with the “Miss Southern Belle Princess Pageant,” only to be followed by “Mr. Gay Prince,” “Miss Lesbian Princess,” “Miss Asian Princess,” “Miss Jewish Princess,” “Miss Playmate Princess” and “Miss Plus Size Princess.” Mr. Ryan Bert Parks it up (look him up, kids) on the action. The audience and celebrity judges decide the winners. There will be tears — let’s hope lots of ’em. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Sun., May 31, 8 p.m.; $10. (323) 525-0202.
IF YOU CAN MAKE IT HERE, YOU CAN POSSIBLY MAKE IT IN NEW YORK
The self-declared bastions of L.A. culture too often dismiss L.A.-based dance companies as lacking the level of professional production, national and international reputations to justify devoting their funds to presenting outside dance companies in major local venues. In addition to the implicit assumption that if local dance/dancers were really any good, they would be somewhere else, the illogic of this odd pavane of civic self-loathing is belied by the caliber of dance here. If a fraction of the fortunes being poured into presenting outside touring companies was committed to local dance, a number of the L.A.-based companies would be able to go toe to toe with a lot of what comes to town. Nowhere is that more evident than The 18th Annual Lester Horton Awards, presented by the Dance Resource Center. The DRC’s annual Horton Awards is part awards ceremony, part reunion for L.A.’s far-flung dance community and a splendid performance sampler of the range and depth of the vibrant and diverse local dance scene. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Sun., May 31, 5 p.m.; $20. www.brownpapertickets.com.
MONDAY, JUNE 1
You wouldn’t necessarily think that someone born in Arcadia might have such an amazing Technicolor dreamcoat of a life — notwithstanding Sho Kosugi, who just lives there — but Dennis Cooper has had more lives than almost any modern artist short of Marcel Duchamp or John Giorno, and he just keeps on finding new ways to live. His latest creative endeavor, the short-story collection “Ugly Man” (Harper Perennial), with titles like “One Night in 1979 I Did Too Much Coke and Couldn’t Sleep and Had What I Thought Was a Million-Dollar Idea to Write the Definitive Tell-All Book About Glam Rock Based on My Own Personal Experience but This Is as Far as I Got,” balance ultraviolence with cutting humor honed for more than 30 years both here (Beyond Baroque) and abroad (Amsterdam). Cooper’s writing in Ugly Man is like a highly literate game of hot-hands — you never know when he’s going to hit you next, but by the time it’s all over you feel that distinctive stinging sensation. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Mon., June 1, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175 or skylightbooks.com. Also at Book Soup on Tues., June 2.
TUESDAY, JUNE 2
POEM, SWEET POEM
Poet, scholar and author Richard Howard, on a special visit from the Big Apple, will show us how words can transport us — reading samples of his poetic verses, to soothe the ear and invigorate the mind. The Pulitzer Prize–winning author and 2009 National Book Award nominee for his compilation of poems, Without Saying, has traveled far and wide, studying at the world’s most prestigious universities such as the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia to become a master wordsmith. Translating hundreds of French poems by famed writers such as Camus, De Beauvoir and De Gaulle has provided plentiful fodder for his own eclectic creations. In one of Howard’s poems titled, “Like Most Revelations,” he evokes the spirit of movement as the epicenter of life — and no, he’s not referring to the jolting movement from recent quakes. If upon hearing his musings, he can move even one listener, there might be hope for us yet. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Tues., June 2, 7 p.m.; $7 adults, $5 seniors, free for museum members. (310) 443-7000.
SEVEN JOHNS AND AN IRA
The Emmy-winning docu-show offshoot of the NPR radio show This American Life recently returned for its second season on Showtime, but you can watch an episode with host Ira Glass breathing the same air as you. Glass describes “John Smith” with typical NPR haughtiness as “one of the best things we’ve ever put out, on TV or radio.” The ep tells the story of seven people named John Smith from all over the country. He’ll screen the hour-long “John Smith” episode and other TV stories, and talk briefly about the making of the TV show. Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues., June 2, 7:30 p.m.; $20; (310) 247-3600 or www.kcrw.org.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3
VINCENTE WITH A “V”
It’s hard to believe that there’s never been a full-length biography of director Vincente Minnelli. The man gave us An American in Paris, Gigi, Father of the Bride, Brigadoon and Madame Bovary, not to mention Liza. Over his illustrious career, Minnelli directed Spencer Tracy, Gloria Grahame, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley MacLaine and Martha Hyer in Oscar-nominated performances. Emanuel Levy reads from and signs Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Wed., June 3, 7 p.m.; free, book is $37.95. (310) 659-3110.
THURSDAY, JUNE 4
LET’S BE FRANK
Frank Gehry once said, “Architecture is a small piece of this human equation, but for those of us who practice it, we believe in its potential to make a difference, to enlighten and to enrich the human experience, to penetrate the barriers of misunderstanding and provide a beautiful context for life’s drama.” Wow – someone sure thinks a lot of himself. If you are an admirer of the famous architect, then you already have your copy of Barbara Isenberg’s Conversations with Frank Gehry. And if you are a fan of both the book and actual live conversations, you’ll no doubt want to be at “In Conversation: Babara Isenberg and Frank Gehry.” Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium, 1200 Getty Center Dr.; Thurs., June 4, 7 p.m.; free, $10 parking. (310) 440-7300.
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