Home » Posts tagged 'L.A.'
Tag Archives: L.A.
It’s seasonal, just like any resort town’s dynamics, and Incline Village is exemplary of that, surrounded by incredible natural beauty, inhabited by millionaires and the service class that caters to them, between the gorgeous lake and the majestic mountains. Starting with winter, from November through April, inside and home: the blanket with the bat-shape (but actually a Native American form) on the couch, the four-inch high bear figurine with the deer painting behind it, and the sun on the wall. But more so outside, during the snow covered half of the year, the Ridge Lift (the oldest and coolest chairlift) only runs a few days a season. That morning three feet of new pristine white stuff, sublime, beautiful beyond belief. Quiet as an absolute. Grey as the snowflakes got sparser. Got locked in the hut, the doorknob was broken. Banged on the window but Pete Kelly the director of lift operations took off on his snowmobile without hearing and I was stuck in there for a while but it was ok. A week before another big storm and at 6am walking to work at the ski area saw the happy face someone had carved in the snow on the rock underneath the “Village Highlands” sign. The skis (bought from Pete) leaning up against the employees’ locker room. Working at Diamond Peak, sitting in the lift sheds, thinking, the Eagles on the radio, watching the hawks ride the updrafts, the ski runs unfurling below and the resplendent blue of Lake Tahoe laid out beyond, the chairs going around and around in their inexorable circle. Co-workers drinking purple Rockstar™ energy drinks and Southern Comfort™ at 8am, smoking weed, flying down the slopes wasted. Stand by the lift, put people on the chairlift, and wait for lunch hour to ski. Then spring and summer, the amazing “bowling alley” made of pine cones and twigs found behind the baseball field at Preston Park, and the light at night like a Rene Magritte painting by the deserted tennis courts, the snowmaking cooling equipment seen in June and the shovel and broom on the porch.
During the summer months worked for the parks department. Under my mentor Jose’s tutelage learned to lay down chalk on the baseball fields. Also raked, shoveled, picked up trash, and drove a Gator. From the heights to the earth. Based on the inspection of what is low, what is at one’s feet. The baseball diamond dirt and chalk, the tennis courts’ beige and green, the yellow fiber plugs, the spray paint on the rocks, the manhole cover, the hose that is a hose but also a noose, the stakes and the dirt.
Martos Gallery, Los Angeles
3315 West Washington blvd.
wednesday – saturday 12-5 pm
L.A.’s first and finest punk rock magazine…
by MARK VALLEN
Slash Magazine grew out of the tasteless wasteland of Los Angeles in 1977, when a cluster of punk malcontents emerged who would challenge prevailing attitudes with as much verve as any group of nonconformists who had preceded them. Slash set trends not only in music, but also in street fashion and visual art. It offered tirades against the corrupt music industry and its stars along with endless rants in favor of turning the status quo upside down.
Slash provided coverage of local punk concerts and extensive interviews with LA punk bands like the Weirdos, Germs, X, Fear, and Black Flag. It also gave approving coverage to English bands like the Clash, Sex Pistols and the Damned – when hardly a single US paper would dare write about them. Slash was also the primary source of record reviews for punk and “new wave” records. I was an avid reader of Slash from the beginning, but in 1979 decided that perusing its inflammatory pages was not enough. One day I waltzed into their offices and got myself hired as a part time designer and production artist. Ultimately I was to contribute two cover illustrations to the publication, both of which are presented here (Sue Tissue & last edition).
Slash was founded by Steve Samioff and Claude Bessy on May Day of 1977. Bessy turned out to be the publication’s main writer and editor. Samioff grew bored with Slash and around 1979 he partnered with Bob Biggs, a bohemian entrepreneur who saw a goldmine in Slash. In 1980 Samioff handed the project over to Biggs, who terminated the publication and built a record label upon its ashes. I’m eternally proud to have created the cover art for the very last issue of Slash. an edition as hard hitting and full of integrity as the first issue. It’s hard to believe that in only four years of existence as a publication, Slash would have attained such far reaching success. It not only helped change the face of music, it trailblazed a path that eventually would have an effect on millions.
Claude Bessy’s words have been ringing in my ears for many years now, so I’m thrilled to be able to inflict his vision upon the rest of the world by posting some of his old Slash editorials on these pages. What’s remarkable about Bessy’s diatribes is that, while they reveal just how far we’ve come – they also show how little has actually changed. The screaming banality observed by Bessy in the late 70’s has now grown so pervasive that few seem to notice any longer. Ever so often I recall working at the Slash office, putting together the pages of the magazine – all the while hearing Claude typing in the other room, chuckling as he contemplated the effect his words would have on an unsuspecting audience. Sometimes he’d excitedly run out of his tiny room with a mischievous glint in his eyes, to share with me some of his poisonous barbs.
One of my favorite Slash stories concerns the reviewing of vinyl records. It was 1980, and the number of records and tapes sent to Slash by bands hoping to be reviewed was staggering. Most submissions were vinyl 45 singles self-produced by bands who then promptly faded into obscurity. One day we received a 45 sent to us from Ireland by an unknown band. Claude placed it on the turntable and we listened to it once, before he muttered something about “typical pop” and tossed the record aside. It fell into the Slash Black Hole of music not edgy enough to be considered punk. The name of the single was I will follow, and the unknown band was U2.
While working at Slash Magazine, I crossed paths with a number of artists, writers, musicians, and photographers – but few such encounters could top my being rude to one of the contemporary art world’s biggest stars. One day, as I was designing pages for the magazine, Bob Biggs popped in with a disheveled looking blond fellow. I immediately recognized the scruffy fair-haired man, but feigned blankness (not being a fan of the luminary). Claude Bessy had stopped pecking at his typewriter in the adjacent room, no doubt to better overhear something.
Biggs stepped up to me with his guest at his side, and with stars in his eyes pronounced, “Mark, I’d like you to meet David Hockney.” Barely looking up from my work, I said, “Should I know that name?” Biggs was more embarrassed by my insufferable attitude than was his famed UK artist friend, but the both of them retreated to a friendlier setting. Bessy emerged from his room sniggering and grinning ear to ear after having heard the encounter. I had apparently passed his test of not falling to celebrity worship, and from then on he considered me a friend.
Soon after Slash Magazine folded in 1980, Claude and Philomena left the country for good, eventually settling in Spain. The Hollywood punk scene had splintered and many of its innovators moved on to other things, though a few of the original torch bearers continue to exemplify the spirit of ’77. Punk rock exploded onto the world stage in the late 70’s like a cataclysmic act of God – and just in the nick of time. It saved some of my generation from the clutches of a mind-numbing conformity. But as it’s been said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Slash was just one small stab at altering society and re-energizing a rebellious state of mind, a mission that is certain to be taken up by others… starting now.
“I don’t give a fuck what anybody says. If you don’t have time to see it, don’t. If you don’t like it, don’t. If it doesn’t give you an answer, fuck you. I didn’t make it for you anyway.” — J. C.
In preparation for our month-long retrospective, I’ve been steeping myself in the subject of Cassavetes: reading interviews and biographies, watching documentaries, and most of all, viewing his films. Like many a film lover before me, I’m going down the rabbit hole, because the more deeply you go down, the more rewarding it is. And I’m having a blast. In fact, it’s only by doing this that I’m just now I’m realizing what we’ve done here at Cinefamily, and why I think you should really participate this month: this retrospective is a kind of “master class” in the work of one of America’s most fascinating directors.
To start with, I think Cassavetes himself would appreciate my honesty when I say I’ve always had mixed feelings about his work before now; there are scenes and moments that destroy me (in a good way), and other moments that feel false, bombastic, or just seemed sloppy. I had trouble grasping the films as a whole, and long chunks would consequently bore me as I floated adrift on the sea of emotion, until some undeniably explosively awesome moment would happen. But the films always haunted me. What I see now is how his films improve over repeated viewings — from seeing them consecutively, getting on his wavelength, and learning to speak his language. These films are like people, interesting and complicated people. You don’t always understand them at first, but as you get to know them, all of their quirks make more and more sense. They reveal themselves.
Rewatching his films, I often have an epiphanous moment when the code cracks, and suddenly the whole crazy experience falls into place. I immediately want to see the whole movie again, or at least revisit it in my mind, now that I know how it’s all working. His films are like relatives; my feelings towards them change as I get older, and as I understand them better. I may still hate the way my mother screams like she’s witnessed a murder just because she drops something in the kitchen, but more and more it becomes inextricably interwoven with my deeper understanding of who she is, and why I love her.
If I had to sum up one thing I’ve gotten out of all this, it’s a knowledge of the incredible focus Cassavetes had. Truffaut once said that all great directors must sacrifice some aspect of filmmaking to achieve something brilliant — in essence, the bedsheet never covers the whole bed. And no one has worked harder to go as deep as possible exploring the complexity of human interrelationships than Cassavetes, and while he did love other aspects of film, he would give up anything — the framing, the editing, the continuity, the smoothness of the story, paradoxically even his own understanding of the characters — to reach a certain ecstatic emotional depth. He wanted you to feel as intensely and thoughtfully about his films as you did about your own life, and sometimes (perhaps by definition all the time) that means you can’t fully understand them.
As I said before, here’s your chance to have a “masters class” in John Cassavetes. We’re showing not just every film he directed, but films he starred in, his rare television work, and even films made with people he just worked closely with — ’cause we know what it’s like when you get obsessed: everything and everyone he touched takes on a certain interest. We’ve got restored prints from UCLA, rare trailers, and lectures. We’ve got sidebar tributes to Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel and Gena Rowlands — all appearing in person — where we’ll tour through their own careers as actors. We’ve rounded up virtually every guest that could be had. This is the best chance you’ll ever have to do this right.
The whole shebang starts tomorrow with Shadows, screened from a gorgeous restored 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film &Television Archive. After the film, join us for a conversation with its star, Lelia Goldoni, the memorably gorgeous face turned on its side in the film’s signature image. She’s still gorgeous, charming, and as one of the last remaining members of the Shadows cast, an important link to one of the most historically significant films of the 20th century (virtually the first truly successful independent film).
THIS ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY BEGINS TONIGHT!!!
3.10 @ 8pm — “SHADOWS” 1959 directed by John Cassavetes. Co-star Lelia Goldoni Q&A after the film…
A New York counterpart to the crime-solving hipsterism of its contemporary “Peter Gunn”, “Johnny Staccato” is still riveting in ways long removed from its lone ‘59/’60 season. Cassavetes-lovers can get hours of our main man as a moody jazz combo pianist who moonlights as an unorthodox detective, and the style points go through the roof from there: amazing wardrobe, fakey sets, and superb jazz music on the soundtrack, all bubbling within overblown plots and chewy dialogue. The young, mercurial Cassavetes is a blast, updating the old ‘40s noir detective fighting a confused world to the ‘50s fresh jazz era — and the series’ parade of guest stars is equal fun, as the show’s run included one-off turns by Dean Stockwell, Cloris Leachman, Martin Landau, Mary Tyler Moore and even Gena Rowlands! As well, Cassavetes even got to direct some of the episodes, giving him the opportunity to hone the skills he would simultaneously use on the production of Shadows. Join us for a program of J.C.-directed episodes from this hidden treasure of golden-era television!
3.12 @ 7:30pm — Ben Gazzara Q&A. @ 9pm — “HUSBANDS” 1970 directed by John Cassavetes…
3.13 @ 5:30pm — Gary Oldman Q&A with Ben Gazzara. @ 6pm — “THE STRANGE ONE” 1957 directed by Jack Garfein. @ 8pm — “THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE” 1976 directed by John Cassavetes. @ 10:45pm — “SAINT JACK” 1979 directed by Peter Bogdanovich…
“The Strange One” is an odd little movie, an allegory of evil that seems made by a studio that only exists in an alternate reality, and beamed onto a local TV station late into the night. In his first starring role, Gazzara immediately proved he had serious acting chops, oiling up the screen with his creepy, charismatic portrayal of a Machiavellian military cadet who’s rotten to the core. Looking dapper in a sailor cap and robe, a casually manipulative Benny spews out his hyper-articulate lines with the coolness of a proto-Buddy Love type, sadistically getting pleasure out of destroying the lives of everyone he touches. Directed by fascinating film footnote Jack Garfein (a teenage Holocaust survivor cum successful Broadway theater director who only directed two films) and largely populated with fellow skilled Actors Studio members including George Peppard and Pat Hingle, is not quite like any other film you’ve seen, and is not easily forgotten. The Strange One is indeed a strange one.
3/15 @ 8:00pm — Seymour Cassel Q&A. @ 9:00pm — “MINNIE & MOSKOWITZ” 1971 directed by John Cassavetes…
In one of her final dramatic roles, Judy Garland stars as an unorthodox teacher of special-needs children who stands up against Burt Lancaster’s stern, by-the-book mental hospital psychiatrist in A Child Is Waiting, Cassavetes’ nouvelle vague melodrama that was to be his last for-hire feature directorial gig until the tumultuous production of Big Trouble almost 25 years later. A Child Is Waiting has all the trappings of a standard “social issue” movie, but in Cassavetes’ hands, the focus is shifted most interestingly onto its young characters. Cassavetes insisted on casting real-life mentally-challenged youngsters, whose intriguing performances at times even upstage the mighty Miss Judy, and are the true heart and soul of the film. Along with the stylistic touches (tight close-ups, handheld camerawork, long takes) that would later become his hallmarks, Cassavetes infuses the film with an elevated level of genuine tenderness and sadness rarely reached by other studio pictures of the day.
This delirious Vegas gangster saga, featuring Cassavetes as an ex-con offered a too-good-to-be-true casino heist gig, is a major rediscovery. J.C. had already earned a critical reputation for directing pioneering works like Shadows and Faces, which he largely financed by taking surprisingly good paycheck roles in films like The Dirty Dozen, Rosemary’s Baby and this crackerjack Italian production with a cast to die for. The co-star here, Peter Falk, immediately hit it off with John, beginning a partnership that continued with Husbands, A Woman under the Influence, and Mikey and Nicky. Gena Rowlands also appears in a key supporting role, while the gorgeous Britt Ekland is seen in her prime as the female lead. Meanwhile, Eurocult devotees will get a huge kick out of the infectious Morricone score, and ‘60s aficionados will thrill to plenty of terrific on-location footage of Vegas in its swingin’ prime. The fact that McCain is a really solid crime film to boot is just icing on the cake!
The Cinefamily — 611 N Fairfax Avenue, 323-655-2510…
“a genealogy of ideas…”
This year, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 50 years old. And in half-century celebration, there are events all over the world: In Paris, you can see more than 100 of his works at the Museum of Modern Art through January 2011, as well as a special exhibition at Galerie Pascal Lansberg. In other cities, you can catch Tamra Davis’ new documentary, The Radiant Child, centered on an interview the director shot with Basquiat 20 years ago. And in New York, a Basquiat exhibition was on display for much of the fall at the Robert Miller Gallery, in Chelsea.
But in Los Angeles, there resides a much more personal collection. At LeadApron, a gallery on Melrose Place, gallerist Jonathan Brown has an unusual collection of ephemera: 112 pieces belonging to Basquiat, including self-portraits and even the signature bow tie he wore in his hair, all from the last year of his life.
Brown acquired this collection about five years ago from an old friend, Kelle Inman, Basquiat’s last girlfriend. “Kelle had a real mothering instinct; she wanted to care for you,” Brown says. “I think that may have been some of her connection to Jean-Michel, because she spent the last year of his life with him. She nursed him, cared for him, and tried to help him get off drugs.”
Inman and Basquiat met when she was working as a waitress at Nell’s; two days later, she was living with him. “She didn’t really know who he was,” says The Radiant Child director Tamra Davis, who knew Inman during the relationship.
“My sense is she wasn’t starstruck, per se—more than he was someone in need,” adds Brown, of their relationship. All of the objects in the collection, given to her by Basquiat, belonged to Ms. Inman (who passed away in July). “Some of it has his handwriting on it; and some of it doesn’t, so it was difficult to authenticate outside of Kelle’s word—though everybody knew she was with him. There were pictures of them together; notes written to her, so there was no reason for her to manufacture anything,” he says.
“It’s as if you’re working with a penumbra of an idea of someone’s life—this is just filling it in,” Brown says. “There are photos he took in New Orleans that he used as references for his artwork. He wrote on them, ‘4×5, one reg’—meaning he meant to blow them up and use them as source material. These are Basquiat’s curatorial picks—his edited life.… This is a trail—a genealogy of ideas.”
the original home cinema in Los Angeles…
There was never before a phenomenon quite like the Z Channel. There hasn’t been one since. Yet at its height, under the guidance of one particularly brilliant but tragic man, Z made a radical and abiding difference in the way we see movies.
1. LIFE LOOKS LIKE FUN
Grab my hand and jump back in time with me to a day in late October 1986. It’s a warm Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting in a sunlit kitchen, laughing and chatting with my friends Deri and Jerry. They’ve been married six months. I’ve got a clear plastic cube about the size of a human skull in my hand, and I’m marveling happily at baby pictures of the two of them, mounted all around its translucent sides. Deri was already tall and beautiful by age six—her elegant posture, her merry, curious way of eyeing a person, and above all, her life-marking sweetness, were there from the get-go, indelibly present in every high-school and college snapshopt that followed. “I have a crush on Deri,” I tell Jerry lightheartedly. He replies with mock gravity: “I can relate.” Deri laughs—no stranger to people having (or announcing) crushes on her, and no less lightly at home with Jerry’s dry, often subtle, darkness-tinged humor. He makes her laugh a lot. She in turn powerfully and consistently lifts his spirits. In the four-and-a-half years that I’ve known and worked closely with him, I’ve never seen him so much at ease, so comfortable in his own skin. The only evidence that he’s ever been truly happy prior to this moment in his life is actually in my hand—a little snapshot of Jerry at five, identifiably himself (pale sharp eyes, bowed forehead, expressive grin) yet so open, so radiant and all-welcoming that Deri has given the image a side to itself in the Plexiglas cube. I ponder it, tickled, and show Jerry what I’m smiling at.
A year and a half later, Deri would be dead—shot from behind by Jerry, of all people, at the sink in this very kitchen, of all places, in a blind rage that apparently followed a late-Saturday-afternoon quarrel. Jerry then climbed into bed fully clothed, boots and all, drew up the covers, and turned the pistol on himself. This ghastly double tragedy scarred hundreds of souls, mine included—and for many years, the shame of Deri Rudolph’s murder understandably obliterated what had been, up until its final hour, the noble achievement of Jerry Harvey’s public life. He had, by his sheer passion for movies, led a revolution in how they are perceived and received by the mass public.
Filmmaker Xan Cassavetes went a long way toward redressing this imbalance with her 2004 documentary, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, which I co-produced and appear in, as one of several dozen witnesses to the Z legacy, and Jerry’s life. Inescapably, that film swims deep into the mystery of the murder-suicide, a befogged, arctic darkness in which no echo sounds. Jerry’s killing himself makes perfect sense—it was a tragic but sane, even honorable, response to a desperate and shameful act. Deri’s murder makes no sense, this side of madness. What I hold to, now, when I think back to the Z days, is the life of what we did there. And that happy autumn of 1986 is right where my mind flies—the bright, abundant bull’s-eye of our adventure. Not only were Jerry and Deri utterly unclouded by any tragedies ahead, but he was at the height of his powers and freedom as the programming chief of a local (strictly Los Angeles–based) TV service that had become legendary under his leadership.
the article continues with a gallery of Z Magazine covers that will take you back to where you were when…
“Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION” 2004 directed by Xan Cassavetes
to commemorate the 101st birthday of John Fante, the City of Los Angeles has designated the corner of 5th and Grand as John Fante Square…
the square is located at the foot of the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Fante lived, adjacent to the Central Library where many years later a young Bukowski discovered “Ask the Dust” and was inspired to become a writer…
see the old neighborhood brought to life — tunnel, Red Car, Angels Flight and all — in Robert Towne’s film adaptation of the novel, where Towne turned a South African rugby field into ’30s L.A…
“ASK THE DUST” 2006 directed by Robert Towne
check out a deconstruction of the film’s version of old Bunker Hill…
and for more information from LAVA — the organization behind the inception of John Fante Square — go to the Los Angeles Visionaries Association…