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|March 11th, 2007, 11:33 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Los Angeles Venues for Art, Fashion, Music, Sports and More
Art of the new
How a previously industrial area in Culver City morphed into the latest gallery hotspot.
By Dean Kuipers, Special to The Times
The crowd for the opening at Lightbox gallery was pretty impressive, for what is still an emerging space in a new part of town. The reception for painter and collagist Stefan Hirsig's pop-influenced exhibition, "There Is Water at the Bottom of the Ocean," was full of established L.A. art figures who gallerists love to see. In the milling crowd were artists Chris Wilder, Rachel Lachowicz, Charles Gaines and George Stoll, rock 'n' roll designer Henry Duarte, actress Marisa Tomei, war photographer David Butow, art dealer Dan Hug and Artillery magazine editor Tulsa Kinney.
It was a stormy Saturday night, and owner Kim Light seemed pleased at the turnout, achieving a kind of rock-star vibe herself in jeans and a leather shirt. Hirsig's work and her reputation are part of the draw, but finally, so is the location. She is among several high-profile art dealers to have settled an industrialized stretch of South La Cienega, technically in the city of Los Angeles, but across the street from a piece of Culver City now officially designated as the Culver City Art District.
Since 2003, when art world heavyweights Blum & Poe relocated to La Cienega, only a few doors down from what would become Lightbox, more than 30 galleries have moved to the district. Why here? For starters: lots of big, empty spaces and cheap rent, in a locale just off the Santa Monica Freeway and adjacent to wealthy Westside neighborhoods where art collectors live. But it was also the chance to remake an entire area, organically, just for visual art, bringing a vitality and commonality of experience the art world can claim as its own.
Or maybe it was just the chance to party.
"On opening nights, it's like Westwood in the '80s," said BLK/ MRKT Gallery co-owner Jana DesForges. "People have their wine and wander down the street. It gets packed."
Seemingly overnight, the district has achieved the kind of critical mass that makes it chic to be in, say, Berlin, and mention how you were just in Culver City. Two years ago they would have asked you where that was. Now they've heard it enough times to pretend they know.
"You can't not go here anymore," said Tim Blum, one half of Blum & Poe. "It's definitely entrenched. It's a real community being promoted extensively all over the world."
And there's a nice dividend: Locals are getting turned onto art. There's the collectors swinging by at all hours, the museum curators sniffing around, but plenty of the Saturday patrons are newbies people from the neighborhood, often out with their kids and they're not only gawking. They're buying.
Like a magnet
The spot on La Cienega that is now Mandrake has always been a bar a gay bar before this, a series of delightful dives but never exactly trendy.
At 10 on the night of Light's opening, Mandrake is packed with hipsters and pretty young things who've spilled out of now-closed galleries looking for somewhere to go. Artist Frances Stark and Dot Dot Dot design magazine's Stuart Bailey are DJing; artist DJs, in fact, are a staple of the place. Patrons huddle in intense te^te-a`-te^tes. Crowds push past the bright blue bar and a Raymond Pettibon drawing that laments, "I thought California would be different," and into a large exhibition/happening room hung with a collection of tote bags from art events a show assembled by Drew Heitzler, one of Mandrake's three co-owners.
"Justin [Beal], Drew and I are all artists. That's our world," said co-owner Flora Wiegmann, who is married to Heitzler. "So we have myriad events that go on here. It ranges from a very formalized film series that's happening every other week for an entire year, to a knitting group or whatever."
Mandrake opened in September and has been integral to the area's expansion, and that's no accident. The bar "was to serve as a sort of anchor for the neighborhood," said Wiegmann, who, along with Heitzler, used to run a space around the corner on Comey Avenue called Champion Fine Art. "We just felt like the street needed a place where people could convene and take a break."
Blum and Jeff Poe agreed, and became the principal investors in the space. "It's a great neighborhood bar," Poe said.
It's doubtful Culver City's Art District would have happened at all without Blum and Poe. In January 2003, the two were looking to move their gallery from a smaller, 1,200-square-foot space on Broadway in Santa Monica and couldn't find the right place. Other areas, from Santa Monica to Chinatown, were too expensive, too establishment or had too much of an art student vibe. They even tried to buy a building in Chinatown, but the deal fell through. For "some weird reason," Blum said, they looked at a stretch of commercial buildings on La Cienega just south of the 10 freeway, totally removed from other established gallery areas.
The corner at Washington and La Cienega was entirely industrial, a series of windowless brick buildings straddling the concrete ditch of Ballona Creek and surrounded by tire stores, an industrial lighting house and a lumberyard. But here they found a clean brick building and 5,000 square feet of space.
"The space was available, and we just said, 'Screw it. Let's go for it,' " Blum said.
This was no small event, however. Blum & Poe represents a roster of internationally renowned artists including Sam Durant, Takashi Murakami, Jennifer Bornstein, Sharon Lockhart and Mark Grotjahn. Blum said he and Poe were pretty sure the collectors would come. But would anyone else?
"You can't script that. We're not developers," Blum said.
But come they did. Kim Light got a call from Poe, who once worked with her, and ended up taking another of the spaces. And then, quickly, came Lauri Firstenberg at LAXART, a nonprofit institution that had also been looking in Chinatown and Koreatown but not seeing anything it liked.
"Culver City was an incredible opportunity, since there are so many artists' and architects' studios here," said Firstenberg, who teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc).
Susanne Vielmetter brought in her gallery; Lizabeth Oliveria came one after another, all taking adjacent buildings. Two galleries Western Project and Fresh Paint had already been established a few blocks away in downtown Culver City.
"These warehouses or factories mine used to be a glass and mirror factory you could just do a lot of things," gallery owner Anna Helwing said. "And then, convenience it's right in the middle of everything.
"You have to grow up in L.A. to get it," Poe said. "The freeway access is huge. People will come here. It's easy to get to."
New, emerging galleries followed the established dealers, including many from what Blum and others call a "parallel" art world, such as Billy Shire Fine Arts (Shire also owns the ultra-hip La Luz de Jesus Gallery and Soap Plant store).
Lesser-known contemporary galleries brought a lot of art fans and buyers eager to come to openings and get in the game. Crowds drew more crowds, and the area exploded.
"Another good restaurant in this area would be great, so put that in your story!" Helwing said with a laugh.
With open arms
On a quiet Thursday afternoon, Sci-Arc students Jarod Poenisch, Sam Keville and Anthony Lagnay stopped in at BLK/ MRKT Gallery to check out a group show. The work is graphic novel-inspired, mostly figurative paintings with a razor-sharp urban edge. The trio had come to see an art-in-architecture show called "Entropy" at the nearby Koplin Del Rio Gallery, and it was their first time in the district.
"I've definitely heard a lot about it," Keville said.
"Even my parents they're thinking about moving to L.A., and they're interested in Culver City. They live in Austin," Poenisch added.
Chances are they'll find some decent restaurants too, despite the pleas of Helwing. Patrons can retire to Beacon, a popular Asian cafe, or the bright La Dijonnaise, or get their fine dining at Wilson, the newest restaurant from Piccolo chef Michael Wilson. Surfas, the tremendously popular gourmet shop, is a favorite stop for lunch. A more recent arrival, further into downtown, is the red-hot steakhouse Ford's Filling Station. Restaurants a few blocks from the district's hub at Washington and La Cienega haven't seen a hike in business so far. But Vincent Trevino, owner of Bluebird Cafe' on National Boulevard, sees the potential. He soon plans to extend his Monday-through-Friday schedule into the weekends.
"With the Art District and the Ballona Creek trailhead, which is right here, and then the Exposition Line stopping right here, the weekends are going to get big," Trevino said.
The arrival of the Exposition light-rail line, which will link downtown with the district by 2010, is not lost on Culver City officials, who are working up a plan to keep an "artist influence" in the development planned around the line's terminus at National and Washington. This is indicative of the city's reaction to the gallery influx it welcomed it with open arms.
City officials piggybacked on what Blum & Poe and others had created on the L.A. side of La Cienega by waiving some permit fees or shepherding new galleries through permitting processes on the Culver City side of the line. "It's not like we sat down and consciously said three years ago that this was going to be an art district in Culver City. It evolved," said Christine Byers, public art and historic preservation coordinator for the city, and one half of its Cultural Division.
It was a quick evolution mostly within 24 months and in June 2006, Byers and her colleague Susan Obrow, Culver City's performing arts and special events coordinator, began a community event called Artwalk Culver City. They contacted businesses, put musicians in the street and sent brochures home with Culver City schoolkids. In the end, they had what looked to be a new tradition. This year's Artwalk will be June 2.
"We ended up, we think, having 1,500 people wandering the streets. And it was one of the hottest weekends to date, hitting 90 degrees," said Obrow, who added that one of the galleries reported selling 21 pieces that day. "There was economic impact for the galleries and for Culver City. They seemed pleased with the response."
"Culver City gets it," Poe said. "Much better than the city of Los Angeles. They don't do much, culturally. But Culver City has been good."
How good? Poe said he was now seeing the surest sign of success: The low real estate prices that lured the galleries are starting to catch up with them. "I'm hearing about gallery spaces here going up to $2.40 a foot. Pretty soon it'll be too expensive to be around here too." He smiled briefly. "Then there'll have to be a new area. That's the way it goes."
Getting to the art of the matter
The Culver City gallery scene has exploded in just the last few years but, in fact, a good chunk of it is in Los Angeles too. To get to the heart of it, just take the La Cienega Boulevard exit off the 10 Freeway. Here's a look at some gallery and dining options:
1. Blum & Poe, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com
Tim Blum and Jeff Poe helped pioneer the area, moving in in 2003.
2. Anna Helwing Gallery, 2766 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. (310) 202-2213, annahelwinggallery.com
Another early settler.
3. Angstrom Gallery, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 204-3334, angstromgallery.com
New branch of a Dallas gallery.
4. Bandini Art, 2635 S. Fairfax Ave., Culver City, (310) 837-6230, bandiniart.com
Approaching its first anniversary.
5. Billy Shire Fine Arts, 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 297-0600, billyshirefinearts.com
A Westside outpost from a champion of the lowbrow.
6. BLK/MRKT Gallery, 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-1989, blkmrktgallery.com
An early arrival on the scene.
7. Cardwell Jimmerson, 8568 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1100, cardwelljimmerson.com
Newcomer in postwar art.
8. Cherry and Martin (not on map), 12611 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 398-7404, cherryandmartin.com
Southwest of the scene, but part of the Culver City Artwalk.
9. Corey Helford Gallery, 8522 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2340, coreyhelfordgallery.com
Opened in April.
10. d.e.n. contemporary, 6023 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-3023, dencontemporaryart.com
Focuses on abstract art.
11. Denizen Design Gallery, 8600 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 838-1959, denizendesigngallery.com
Art meets furniture and household.
12. Fresh Paint Art Advisors, 9355 Culver Blvd., Suite B, Culver City, (310) 558-9355, freshpaintart.com
Gallery and consultancy.
13. George Billis Gallery L.A., 2716 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 838-3685, georgebillis.com
From the Chelsea district to L.A.
14. Gregg Fleishman, 3850 Main St., Culver City, (310) 202-6108, greggfleishman.com
Furniture, architecture and art.
15. Harvey Levine Gallery, 5902 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 614-7642, levinegallery.com
Emerging artists; space may move.
16. Hedi Khorsand Gallery, 3850 Main St., Culver City, (323) 650-8980, hkfineartgallery.com
A West Hollywood transplant.
17. Kinkead Contemporary, 6029 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-7400, kinkeadcontemporary.com
Made the scene in September.
18. Koplin Del Rio, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-9055, koplindelrio.com
Another WeHo transplant.
19. The Lab 101 Gallery, 8530-B Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0911, thelab101.com
Moved from Santa Monica in 2004.
20. L.A. Contemporary, 2634 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-6200, lacontemporary.com
A recent arrival.
21. LAXart, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-0166, laxart.orgA leading L.A. nonprofit.
22. Lightbox, 2656 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-1111, lightbox.tv
Another high-profile gallery.
23. Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 837-1073, lizabetholiveria.com
In the heart of "gallery row."
24. MC, 6086 Comey Ave., L.A., (323) 939-3777, mckunst.com
Part of the early wave.
25. Museum of Design Art and Architecture, 8609 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0902, modaagallery.com
Emphasizes art and architecture's "symbiotic relationship."
26. The Museum of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-6131, mjt.org
27. Overtones Gallery (not on map), 11306 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 915-0346, overtones.org
Southwest of the scene, but on Culver City Artwalk.
28. Project, 8545 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0200, project.bz
Launched in 2005.
29. Sandroni.Rey, 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 280-0111, sandronirey.com
Relocated from Venice in 2004.
30. sixspace, 5803 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 932-6200, sixspace.com
Moved from downtown L.A. in '05.
31. Susanne Vielmetter, 5795 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 933-2117, vielmetter.com
A veteran gallerist.
32. Taylor De Cordoba, 2660 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-9156, taylordecordoba.com
Founded in April 2006.
33. walter maciel gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 839-1840, waltermacielgallery.com
Newcomer with SF roots.
34. Western Project, 3830 Main St., Culver City, (310) 838-0609, western-project.com
On the scene in 2003.
Bars and Restaurants
2692 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 837-3297, mandrakebar.com
A hub where artists kick back.
36. Bluebird Cafe', 8572 National Blvd., Culver City, (310) 841-0939, bluebirdcafela.com
Sandwiches, salads, cupcakes.
37. La Dijonaise, 8703 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2770, ladijonaise.com
Croissants and more.
38. Beacon, 3280 Helms Ave., L.A., (310) 838-7500, beacon-la.com
Celebrated Asian cuisine.
39. Wilson, 8631 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2093, wilsonfoodandwine.com
Michael Wilson's adventurous fare.
40. Tea Forest, 8686 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1723, teaforest.com
A cute tea shop.
41. Cafe' Surfas, 8777 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-1458, cafesurfas.com
The restaurant supply store's cafe.
42. Ford's Filling Station, 9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 202-1470, fordsfillingstation.net
Ben Ford's "gastropub."
|March 16th, 2007, 05:28 AM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2005
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L.A.'s killer theater
There’s an edgy breed of dinner theater on the menu — if you don’t mind a little murder with your meal.
By Margaret Wappler, Times Staff Writer
It's a Saturday night at the French restaurant Taix in Echo Park, and a couple of drag queens named Roxxi Botoxxi and Sandy Mangina are engaging an audience of increasingly tipsy Eastsiders. Mangina, a.k.a. Ben Been, a brunet in a hoop skirt, surveys the male patrons with an overheated up-and-down stare and banters uneasily with the women.
"So what's your story?" she says, audaciously catty.
Before you have time to reply, she breaks off, relaying a piece of seemingly inane gossip about one of her three achingly plucked, padded and powdered castmates in the year-old Drama Queen Theater. By the time the show begins — it's a light murder mystery that includes a dance contest and an Amazonian detective with a name that can't be printed here — all sense of decorum has been lost, or at least redefined.
This is dinner theater, reinvented. The Drama Queens' version of the venerable theatrical institution represents something of the lunatic fringe, to be sure, but throughout the Southland small troupes are applying their own twist to a form that probably saw its heyday in the 1980s but lately has had all the sizzle of a mullet.
The vision of cold, dark places with over-emotive actors in crooked wigs and circles of rouge has been replaced with quick, clever productions that increasingly rely on the formula of the murder mystery. Most invite crowd participation — where else can you be accused of a heinous crime over dessert? And, yes, the performers are generally real people with day jobs involving things like hard drives and research reports, but there's something cathartic about the proximity of audience to actor. It's not as if Laurence Fishburne is going to sit down next to you at the Pasadena Playhouse for an extemporaneous bit.
Traditional dinner theater is still out there, but for now we flitted about the Southland with one question: Whodunit?
The Dinner Detective
If the State, the '90s comedy troupe with Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black, ever reunited to start a dinner theater production, it might have the same vibe as the Dinner Detective, which features a young cast plucked from Improv Olympic, Groundlings and Second City. The show at Cucino Paradiso restaurant in the Palms neighborhood bounces between tongue-in-cheek noir, easy gags and raunchy improv.
Kelly, 31, and Scott O'Brien, 29, met while working for TV guru David E. Kelley, using Scott's experience as a crime researcher for "The Practice" to start the Dinner Detective in 2004. They've sold out nearly every show, which they credit to keeping the script loose. "The actors know when they need to hit this beat or that, but we want it to be able to go in 10 different directions," Scott says. "We want the audience to shape the show."
And the audience — young, extroverted and energetic — is up to the task. Guests make up names, and Joe, the host, hands out sheets with suggested interrogation questions such as "Do I look good in this outfit?" Later, hard-nosed cops played by John Abbott and Ronn Ozuk sidle up to tables and give the guests a hard time. To a tattooed, goateed man from Palmdale, Ozuk barks: "So, Alice in Chains, what secrets do you have to hide?"
As the night unfolds, the detectives continue their teasing, and two women in their 50s who call themselves the Jersey Girls respond in kind, cracking wise at every possible juncture. After the show, one of the actors, Chris Alvarado, claims that one of the Jersey Girls gave him a hug and then licked his ear. "I was not expecting that," he says with a laugh. "But then she also slipped me her card and she's an executive producer at some TV network, so I guess it's OK."
The setting is pure Orange County: The Mezzanine Restaurant is tucked away in a glass-and-steel mini-scraper that is tucked away in an office park. But this Irvine production is charmingly modest — a mix of sloppy theatrics, wink-wink silliness and gentle nostalgia.
It's the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Craig Wilson and Tracy Hulette, who started the Gourmet Detective in 1990 with no theater background. "We're both sort of shy," Wilson says. "We didn't want to create an interactive theater environment that's frightening for the audience."
Unless you have a fear of feather boas, you're safe here. Actress Katherine Prenovost, a UCLA researcher by day, stomps around and plays to a crowd that includes college students in hoodies and a table of chatty couples in their late 30s. The traditional production, "Darling, You Slay Me," is a 1920s throwback that uses the play-within-a-play convention. While the audience dines, characters with names such as Dick March and April June swish around with cigarette holders, pouring stiff drinks, accusing one another in growls and purrs and invoking healthy doses of bawdy-but-PG humor. Have you heard the one about the casting couch?
Keith & Margo's Murder Mystery
Founded in 1985, the longest-running murder-mystery dinner theater outfit in Los Angeles seeks to emulate the satisfying procedural plotting of "Law & Order," but with a big dose of interactive comedy. With actors embedded in the audience, the show is very realistic, which has led to unexpected ramifications in the past. At the weekend murder mystery events the group hosts at hotels, "people break into each other's rooms," co-founder Margo Morrison says. The actors have gone overboard too: On a train-bound event, an actor posing as a real detective reported a "murder" to an Amtrak employee, bringing the locomotive to a halt for two hours.
The dinner show, every Saturday at the sparkling West L.A. restaurant Aphrodisiac, starts with a social hour. The actors, disguised as regular Joes, are there too, but it's difficult to tell who's who.
The main show takes place in the plush dining room. The first murder is surrounded by lots of hullabaloo involving popguns. A tiny woman bursts in, wearing an LAPD jacket. Feisty Anita Goodwin, a Keith & Margo veteran of 10 years, grills members of the audience and reveals a dizzying array of clues, including the unfailingly exciting ransom note. At the end, guests are allowed more time (than at other shows) to pore over the clues and unravel the intricate plot. It's indicative of the kind of fan Keith & Margo's attracts: a serious sleuth who tears into problem-solving like it's a bloody steak.
Mysteries En Brochette
Mysteries En Brochette is the light-rock station of dinner theater — easy, unassuming and safe for work. Situated in Marina del Rey's Harbor House, a moderately classy seafood restaurant, Brochette caters to a crowd that wants to get cheeky on a Friday night but not to the point that it will embarrass Mom.
There are no embedded actors here, only performers in tuxes and gowns, using their best enunciation to play to the intimate room. Brochette founder Muriel Minot, a singing instructor, prefers to keep the action out in the open.
"The more remarkable aspects to us are the scripting, the music and choreography," she says. "When you have red herrings and simultaneous action and embedded actors, that doesn't always play to the whole room." Minot uses what she calls "hand-out characters," i.e., assigning a role to a game audience member, to get the crowd involved.
There are two murders in "Hollywood's Fatal Premiere," one of Brochette's rotating themed productions. But Brochette is more about the music, in a very round-the-campfire kind of way. There are goofy-sweet singalongs to Broadway chestnuts and well-worn radio hits. One of the highlights is Christopher Gehrman's rendition of "Trouble" from "The Music Man" — a marvelously off-kilter version that's a little bit scat, a little bit rap.
Julie Cortez and Aldo Maldonado, a couple in their late 20s from Culver City, are here to celebrate their anniversary. "This is different from just going to a dinner or a club, but I really like it," Cortez says. "I think this means we're getting older."
Drama Queen Theater
From the very beginning, the Drama Queens are not for the faint of heart.
The effervescent hostess, a full-blooded woman in a slinky dress, christens guests with drag queen versions of their real names, and the show races off from there, flirting with full-on chaos at every turn.
The humor is sharp but friendly. "Most people want to be pushed a little bit, but I'm never mean-spirited about it," Ben Been says.
The opening social hour belongs to the queens, who publicly diss each other. The guests are encouraged to mingle as they snack on smoked salmon and fruit, and after the production gets rolling, it's a rambunctious, hyperactive hoot.
There's a dance contest involving the queens and audience members, but the highlight is easily the fierce spectacle of caricatured womanhood, the detective lieutenant. With her popgun and a cinched trench, she commands the room — Sam Spade as channeled by Foxy Brown.
What's on the menu? After a bit of the detective lieutenant's overzealous frisking, who remembers?
A selection of the Southland scene:
Mezzanine Restaurant, 19800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. (949) 724-1066; gourmetdetective.com. $65 includes a three-course dinner, show and tax. Mellow and nostalgic, it emphasizes '20s-themed entertainment with its "Bullets Over Broadway"-style show, "Darling, You Slay Me." Bring a feather boa.
The Dinner Detective
Cucina Paradiso, 3387 Motor Ave., L.A. (866) 496-0535; dinnerdetective.com.$62.95 includes a four-course dinner, show, gratuity and live music after the show. Young and spunky with an emphasis on improv, the Dinner Detective offers an interactive, high-energy show. Scripts and actors rotate frequently. And there's a chalk body outline on the floor.
Drama Queen Theater
Taix Restaurant, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. (310) 949-9255; dqtheater.com. $68 includes a four-course dinner, tax, gratuity and show. Imagine a bunch of drag queens running around, accusing each other of horrible crimes while self-aggrandizing their own fabulousness at every turn.
Keith & Margo's Murder Mystery Dinner Theater
The Witness Room (Aphrodisiac), 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (877) 528-9015; murdermystery.com. $78 includes a three-course dinner, tax, gratuity, show and after-show jazz. Like an episode of "Law & Order" but with fewer twists and more high jinks. For fans who take their murder mysteries black and unsweetened.
Curtain Call Dinner Theater
690 El Camino Real, Tustin. (714) 838-1540; curtaincalltheater.com. $36.95 to $47.95 includes a two-course dinner and show. The oldest dinner theater in Southern California opened its doors in April 1980. Now showing "Oklahoma!" Upcoming shows include "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Annie." P.S. The theater doesn't serve alcohol.
Mysteries En Brochette
Harbor House Restaurant, 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. (310) 399-1507; mysteriesenbrochette.com. $72 includes a four-course dinner, tax, gratuity and show. A mix of bloody murder and show tunes, dusty oldies and whatever else the Brochette gang feels like digging out of the musical trunk.
Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater
455 Foothill Blvd., Claremont. (909) 626-1254; candlelightpavilion.com. $41 to $72 includes a two-course dinner and show. Housed in the old Claremont High School's gymnasium, this is a traditional Vegas-like experience. The 2007 season includes "Suessical the Musical," "My Fair Lady" and "Space Oddity."
Sharpo! Murder Mystery Dinner
Queen Mary, 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach. (562) 435-3511. queenmary.com. $70 includes a four-course dinner and show. Does it get any better than a murder mystery aboard a historical ocean liner populated with waterlogged ghosts? Nevermind a life jacket; come with an alibi.
|March 23rd, 2007, 04:32 AM||#3|
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March 22, 2007
Reeling in comedy fans at Big Fish
Unpredictable laughs and general weirdness at D + D's Joke Machine comedy nights.
By Jonah Flicker, Special to The Times
The words "comedy club" conjure up images of intros to "Seinfeld" episodes, Robin Williams in a frenzied lather at Comic Relief or Sunset Strip joints like the Laugh Factory. There are comedy alternatives in Los Angeles, however, and if you're willing to venture off the beaten path for your laughter fix, you may be richly (and sometimes bizarrely) rewarded.
Take Big Fish, which lies in the industrial wasteland of western Glendale, close to the railroad tracks skirting San Fernando Road. The bar is a fishing expedition-themed dive with cheap beer, stuffed fish adorning the walls and nights devoted to karaoke and "live jams." Tuesday nights, though, are the home of D + D's Joke Machine, an offbeat and sometimes cringe-inducing alt-comedy night.
The weekly event began last August, the creation of comedians Denver Smith and Douggpound (n–e Doug Lussenhop), who is also often host of the show. It regularly draws a mix of aspiring amateurs, more seasoned performers and sad-sack miscreants in search of catharsis. "I always think there must be a mental health clinic around the corner," muses Smith. "There are some sketchy, dark people who come in."
Erratic talent is part of the Joke Machine's charm, although that's not necessarily to Smith's liking. "I always wish it was like Carnegie Hall, a dark theater with people all dressed up," he says. "But it's not. We're fighting against this whole weird Glendale element." Smith and Douggpound book the event, although it's sometimes mistakenly listed as an open-mike. Comedians are provided with a chance to test out new material, and many come armed with notebooks and even jokes written on the palms of their hands.
Two recent nights provided opposite examples of how D + D's Joke Machine can play out. One Tuesday found four people listening to the droll wit of comedian Bennie Arthur, the silence occasionally punctuated by the shrill whistle of a passing train. The following week saw a relatively large and enthusiastic crowd enjoying Matt Braunger's truly hilarious set, which included a bit about lifting weights to the music of the Smiths.
The "weird Glendale element" Smith describes is enhanced by Big Fish's bartender, Cheazer, who provides color commentary during the performances and acts as a de facto id to the proceedings. "It's a very enjoyable night. It's a bonus if [the comedians] are funny," he quips. Of course, Cheazer sees other reasons to attend as well: "It's inexpensive to get drunk and stupid."
D + D's works, not in spite of, but because of, its unpredictability. Although groans and silence may at times outnumber laughs, the stream-of-consciousness rants and uniquely funny jokes make it distinctive. Even without the passing trains.
What: D + D's Joke Machine comedy nights
Where: 5230 San Fernando Road, Glendale
When: Comedy on Tuesdays; bar open daily 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Price: No cover. Drinks: draft beer, $2.75; bottled beer, $4; well drinks, $4
Info: (818) 244-6442
|March 24th, 2007, 11:02 PM||#4|
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The Art’s Here. Where’s the Crowd?
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By EDWARD WYATT
Published: March 25, 2007
The New York Times
John Baldessari, a conceptual artist, says he no longer advises art students to go to New York after graduating.
JOHN BALDESSARI, the conceptual artist who has long made his home here, for years gave his college art students one piece of advice when they graduated: Go to New York, the capital of the art world.
Now, however, Mr. Baldessari has a different view. “I don’t think it matters,” he said recently. “More and more young artists leave school and stay here. The opportunities are better, and the cost of living is cheaper. People involved in art regularly come to L.A. It really doesn’t matter if they live in New York or L.A.”
Two decades after Los Angeles emerged as the nation’s second art capital, the city is reaping the benefits of a migration of artists, galleries, dealers and curators. In recent years more than two artists have moved to this city for every one that moved away, a net rate of gain that is higher than in any metropolitan area in the country, according to an analysis of Census Bureau statistics by Ann Markusen, a professor at the University of Minnesota.
In the process new centers of gravity have emerged for contemporary art and artists in a city that has suffered for years because of its lack of a central arts district. Now there is not one such geographic center but several: downtown, where a thriving gallery district operates in what used to be a nighttime ghost town, as well as in former industrial areas in Culver City and Santa Monica. And a new generation of curators have been lured to the major museums here. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Hammer Museum have each attracted energizing new talent in recent years.
Of course the city has long since emerged as an important center for the performing arts as well. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, regarded as one of the country’s most dynamic orchestras, gained added allure with its move to Frank Gehry’s 2003 Disney Hall on Grand Avenue, and the Los Angeles Opera is preparing for its first-ever “Ring” cycle next door at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
In architecture Los Angeles has been an incubator not just for Mr. Gehry but for the rising star Thom Mayne, and high-profile commissions by Renzo Piano at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Steven Holl at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County are proceeding apace. And the boom in television and film production in Hollywood has created new opportunities for visual artists and dancers, many of whom also work for companies that perform in or have close ties to Pacific Rim countries.
Yet the city is still struggling to attract cultural tourists. While New York, London and Paris each attract 10 million to 15 million such visitors per year, Los Angeles draws only about 2.5 million, according to a 2004 study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
“Why is that?” asked the philanthropist Eli Broad, the city’s most visible and generous champion of the arts. “Perception. We have not promoted cultural travel. That’s going to start happening, and that’s going to get the city more and more attention.”
Whereas 40 percent of visitors to New York and London take part in some sort of cultural activity — a museum visit, a theatrical performance or the like — and 85 percent of visitors to Paris do so, only about 1 in 10 tourists to Los Angeles visit a cultural site.
To remedy that Mr. Broad and other civic leaders are bargaining on their investment in the commercial and cultural districts that are taking shape downtown, like the Grand Avenue Project and L.A. Live, efforts that include hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment centers.
“It will mean a big boost to the economy, and a big boost to how our city is viewed internationally,” Mr. Broad said. “It’s not simply sunshine, beaches and Hollywood here.”
But that effort hasn’t been easy. Two years ago Mr. Broad tried to raise $10 million in public financing to promote the arts here. While the city promised $2 million, officials at the county, state and federal levels balked, arguing in part that more private money should be raised for that purpose. For now the effort has stalled, although Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa said in an interview that he would like to create a public-private partnership to accomplish what Mr. Broad proposed.
The mayor’s initiative, however, awaits his appointment of a new general manager for the city’s cultural affairs department, a job that has gone unfilled since the previous department manager resigned nine months ago.
The department manager will be charged with fashioning a new cultural master plan for the city, a blueprint for encouraging both local investment in the arts and reaching out to areas of the city that are underserved by museums, theaters and the like. The master plan was last revised in 1991.
“I think there are a lot of people who want to get involved in the arts, and would if there was a conduit for it,” Mr. Villaraigosa said in an interview.
But that financial conduit is conspicuously absent, especially at a time when corporations are cutting their arts budgets or using them more for marketing than for philanthropy. That problem is aggravated by the relative shortage of major corporations here: Los Angeles has fewer Fortune 500 companies than Richmond, Va., or Charlotte, N.C.
Historically, said Kevin F. McCarthy, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation who is working on a study of support systems for the arts in cities around the country, Los Angeles has had three sets of business leaders: the first drawn from the downtown corporations, the second from the high-technology and aerospace industries on the west side, and the third from Hollywood.
“You could never get the entertainment industry to work with the other two guys, even though there were some people who had connections in both communities,” Mr. McCarthy said. The problem with Hollywood leaders, he said, is that “they’re so used to publicity and understanding the importance of marketing that they want to be the center of attention on all of this stuff.”
The philanthropist Eli Broad, left, with Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“I think they also have a very short-sighted focus, like much of the corporate sector, on profits,” he added. “And they tend to see this as a zero- sum game.”
Some Hollywood moguls are already big donors of course. David Geffen gave $5 million in 1996 to the Museum of Contemporary Art; it now maintains the Geffen Contemporary galleries as a separate part of its three-campus institution. Mr. Geffen also gave money for the renovation of a theater near the University of California at Los Angeles campus in Westwood that is now called the Geffen Playhouse. And Disney Hall was built with $120 million from corporations and private donors, along with an initial $50 million from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian, and more than $100 million from Los Angeles County.
Mr. Broad says he is confident that Hollywood’s commitment will increase, in part through the goading of newly arrived museum directors, including Michael Govan. Mr. Govan arrived one year ago from the Dia Art Foundation in New York to take over as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has forged new connections with Hollywood. Among his additions to the museum’s board are Barbra Streisand; Michael Crichton; Terry Semel, the chief executive of Yahoo and former co-chief executive of Warner Brothers; and Willow Bay, the television reporter who is married to Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney.
Now, however, Mayor Villaraigosa may be in the best position to mobilize money into the arts, galvanize business leaders in Hollywood and beyond, and raise the visibility of the city’s cultural scene. “He’s got the kind of sex appeal that Hollywood wants,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He could bring these guys together,” in a way that the previous mayor, James K. Hahn, could not.
In 2004 Mr. Hahn floated the idea of doing away with the city’s cultural affairs department altogether. That effort was fought by Mr. Villaraigosa, then a councilman, earning him the support of many grass-roots arts organizations, which helped his 2005 election campaign.
“I think we can get Hollywood to be more active in the arts,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “One of the reasons why we’re focused on finding a visionary leader in the area of the arts is because it’s going to take someone who’s got the wherewithal, the respect, the ethos if you will, in the arts community and can rally that community in support of new initiatives,” like cultural programs in the schools and greater citywide spending on the arts.
If anyone knows how hard it can be to attract that support, it is Mr. Broad, who seems to have a hand in almost everything that goes on in the arts.
He was the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and its present location on Grand Avenue downtown, near Disney Hall, is a direct result of his efforts. Mr. Broad is also a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is currently building the Broad Contemporary Art Museum on its campus on Wilshire Boulevard, thanks to a $60 million gift from Mr. Broad and his wife, Edythe.
The Broads have also made a big impact on the art schools in the Los Angeles area. Last fall U.C.L.A. opened the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, a collection of studios, classrooms, offices and gallery space designed by the architects Richard Meier and Michael Palladino. Outside sits a Richard Serra sculpture commissioned by Mr. Broad for that purpose. And the Broads have donated money for buildings at the two other major art schools in the region, the California Institute of the Arts, known as CalArts, in Valencia, and Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
His efforts extend beyond the visual arts. He recently provided a gift to pay for the Los Angeles Opera’s staging of Wagner’s “Ring,” the first time the complete cycle will be produced here.
“Eli Broad really does seem to be the most strategic thinker right now about L.A. and the arts,” said Elizabeth Ondaatje, a Rand Corporation researcher who is directing the institution’s studies of the arts with Mr. McCarthy. “Every other month you read another investment they’ve decided to make.”
Mr. Broad (whose name rhymes with road) has generated a fair amount of resentment in some corners here for his outsized presence on the art scene. His devotion to the downtown projects have been criticized as ignoring pockets of the city that have less access to the arts, like the largely Hispanic sections of East Los Angeles and the areas south of downtown that have large African-American populations. And some of the resistance he faced in his most recent fund-raising effort came from people who wondered why a billionaire was asking for money from taxpayers to promote museums on whose boards he sits.
Ever an optimist, Mr. Broad dismisses those criticisms, saying he prefers to discuss why, despite the relative lack of major corporations here, he still believes that new money can flow to the art world. As evidence, he cited a $25 million donation announced this month by BP, the energy company, to the Los Angeles County Museum to finance a new entrance pavilion.
If it has been hard to attract investment and government support for cultural activities, the city’s vibrant visual arts scene might be seen as its own best advertisement.
“The rest of the world is promoting the city as well or better than L.A. does,” said Gary Garrels, the chief curator at the Hammer Museum, who moved here two years ago from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “All of the curators and galleries that are dynamic are coming to Los Angeles and looking at what’s going on here.”
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Downtown, which not too long ago was little more than a ghost town after 5 p.m. on weekdays, now bustles with activity around Fifth and Spring streets on Friday and Saturday nights, when art galleries typically schedule their openings of new shows. Similar scenes unfold around more established galleries on Wilshire Boulevard and among emerging contemporary galleries in Santa Monica and Culver City, the incorporated area south of Interstate 10.
Last year Los Angeles and its artists were the focus of a major show at the Pompidou Center in Paris, “Los Angeles 1955-1985: The Birth of an Art Capital.” This month the Hammer Museum here will feature 15 contemporary Los Angeles artists in a show exploring what it means to create here, playfully titled “Eden’s Edge.”
As a career art seems more realistic to graduate art students than ever before, said Patrick Painter, who owns a gallery in Santa Monica. “Students graduate here with a feeling they can live in L.A. and make a living in LA.,” he said. “L.A. will never be more important than New York, but it will be equal.”
And naturally some artists adopt Los Angeles precisely because it is not New York. Max Jansons, a Los Angeles painter who is a New York native, graduated from U.C.L.A., then returned to Columbia University for a master’s degree. He now lives in Santa Monica.
“I like having time to be in my studio without being surrounded by tons of different voices and seeing all these different shows and being part of that activity,” Mr. Jansons said. “There’s something very focused about your time here in the studio that I never really had in New York when I was there.”
Whereas New York presents more opportunities for the chance meetings with other artists that stimulate discussion, he added, it is easier to isolate oneself and get work done in Los Angeles. “Here you really have to make an effort to be part of something,” he said.
In large part that is because of the sprawl that so defines Los Angeles, said Michael Brand, who came here in 2005 as director of the Getty Museum. “The thing the city lacks is public transport and ease of access,” he said. “That, I think, is a major problem, unlike London, unlike New York, where you can just quickly go to other sorts of cultural organizations. It means people like myself and my colleagues in the end find it harder to maintain a face-to-face dialogue. You’ve got to plan ahead, and at a minimum it’s an afternoon.”
What Angelenos get in the trade of course is physical space. Sherin Guirguis, an artist who was born in Egypt and received her master’s degree from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, said she chose Los Angeles by necessity.
“I couldn’t afford to live in New York no matter what, not even in Brooklyn,” she said. “I’m able to have space here. I make very large work, and it’s very expensive to make.”
Meanwhile the path forged by Mr. Baldessari and others has brought a legitimacy to artists here, one that many people believe will be followed by increasing levels of financial aid.
“L.A. has been the model for another American city having a spot in the art world,” said Fredric Snitzer, the owner of a gallery in Miami who brought works by several of his artists to the “Art LA” show here in late January.
“In the old days California artists were like they were on another planet,” he said. “In the last 20 years that has changed. There are fabulous artists here who have to be reckoned with.”
|March 26th, 2007, 02:51 AM||#5|
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Amateurs give dance a whirl at Music Center
Hundreds are eager to get into the swing of a variety of dance styles. After all, lessons are only $1 a session.
By Martha Groves, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007
Amateur hoofers turned out by the hundreds Saturday at Music Center plaza for a daylong program aimed at getting people off their duffs and onto the dance floor.
Under a cloudy sky, youngsters from Culver City, college students from Claremont and grandmothers from Los Angeles clogged, tapped, hustled and jitterbugged their way through A Taste of Dance, a Music Center event celebrating diverse ways of moving by offering dance lessons at $1 for a 20-minute session.
Awkward types with two left feet were well in evidence, but so were budding Freds and Gingers.
Yvonne Dowd, 61, a grandmother of three from Hyde Park, and her aunt, June Kimble, also 61, got their grooves on in a modern jazz session taught by Robert Gilliam, a well-regarded Los Angeles dancer and choreographer. They wore jeans and comfortable shoes, the better to glide across the floor and shake their, um, stuff.
"I had come before and had such a great time, so I brought my aunt," Dowd said. "We want to enjoy life. Any time there's an opportunity to do something different, we take it."
"It's good to keep the ol' body moving," Kimble said.
As country music vied for air space with Beyonc–'s "Crazy in Love" and Native American drum music, professional dancers taught the basics of a dozen dance forms, including the Texas two-step and steppin', popularized — in much more raucous form — by the movie "Stomp the Yard."
Leza Williams, 10, and her sister, Nia, 8, of Culver City glowed as they hip-hopped from floor to floor. "It was fun," Nia said.
"You have to have some strength and be flowy," she added, raising her arm gracefully to demonstrate a jazz move.
Hilary Lowe, 21, a senior at Scripps College in Claremont, invited three friends to join her for a dance day in the city. One, Katie Tutwiler, 22, also a Scripps senior, said the two-step lesson reminded her of the Cajun dancing she grew up doing in Louisiana.
Occasionally, tripping the light fantastic took on a literal meaning as children and adults tried out moves better suited to, say, Savion Glover.
A Taste of Dance is part of a year-round Music Center program called Active Arts, which includes Saturday morning drumming sessions and Friday night sing-alongs.
The events, held through December, are designed to get everyday people "singing, dancing, playing their instruments again and telling their stories," said Josephine Ramirez, vice president of programming. "Participatory art-making activities are a way to engage people in civic life."
David Goldstein, 51, whose dance-loving mother accompanied him from Chatsworth, couldn't have agreed more. Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, he displayed a great deal of enthusiasm, if not always swanlike grace.
"I like the variety of dancers and the smiling faces," he said. "It is wonderful. And for $1 a lesson, you just can't beat it."
|March 28th, 2007, 04:12 AM||#6|
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OMG "saiholmes" where do you find all these articles. Do you do this at work or school?
...nuts anyone, nuts in your mouth
by Flight Stewardess
|March 29th, 2007, 04:51 AM||#8|
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|April 12th, 2007, 03:54 AM||#9|
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April 12, 2007
Sunset: the boulevard of dreams
Patrick Ecclesine takes Sunset all the way to snap the diverse faces of Angelenos.
By Shana Ting Lipton, Special to The Times
Sunset Boulevard is undoubtedly one of Los Angeles' most famous streets, but does it serve as a connecting thread for the residents of the diverse neighborhoods it passes through on its way from downtown L.A. to the Pacific Ocean? It's a question photographer Patrick Ecclesine appears poised to answer in his solo exhibit, "Faces of Sunset Boulevard," which opens tonight at Los Angeles City Hall's Bridge Gallery.
In this ongoing personal project consisting of about 100 photographs (24 of which are included in the show), Ecclesine looks to capture L.A.'s dreams, dreamers and, at times, nightmares using the thoroughfare as a focal point for impromptu and set-up portraits of its denizens. He also brought a sound recording device to the photo sessions and did some preliminary interviewing of his subjects to create a fuller story. Quotes from those interviews appear beneath the large prints in the exhibit.
Some of the images capture people on the street — a Bosnian refugee who is now a stand-in on the ABC television show "Grey's Anatomy," a street poet, construction workers, a street vendor. Others depict prominent community workers and leaders such as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton and attending officers. And still more show Hollywood insiders such as Henry Winkler and writer-producer Steven J. Cannell, as well as a plastic surgeon and a divorce attorney.
Ecclesine describes his hometown as "worlds within worlds within worlds," marveling at what he deems a relatively peaceful coexistence among residents with vast cultural differences.
"To me, Sunset Boulevard is the ultimate representation of that because it's the boulevard of dreams, from the barrio to the beach," he says.
Like Sunset, Ecclesine's life has similarly wound through some diverse quarters. The project has taken him back to his roots. Literally born just off Sunset Boulevard, in the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, he spent the first few years of his life residing in a "terrible beat-up ramshackle neighborhood" off Western Avenue.
"It was like a carnival out there," he recalls. "There were Haitian voodoo ceremonies on Saturday nights. There were drug addicts and prostitutes."
More than two decades later, Ecclesine found himself working amid the world of film and TV as a still photographer on the Fox series "The O.C." He recalls having brought his "Faces of Sunset" portfolio to the set, where he met a camera operator who is the brother of 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge. Ecclesine had begun the "Sunset" project in 2004, but found it difficult to solicit city officials — until LaBonge gave him a certificate of appreciation for his work. That helped open all the right doors, Ecclesine says.
This enabled him to orchestrate some ambitious set-up photo shoots. The one that he is most proud of involved Bratton. The image is one of the few in the show that was not actually taken on Sunset, but rather at a nearby helicopter facility, the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center. It took months of planning and negotiations, and picture-perfect coordination with a strategically hovering helicopter. The catch: Because of hectic city official schedules, the photographer had only about five minutes to capture his shot.
Ecclesine is also proud of the shoot he conducted with the L.A. County coroners.
"People are obsessed with 'CSI,' yet the coroners have never been photographed that way," he says, describing the detailed set-up of his photo, complete with body bag and trucks. "They loved doing that."
So did Ecclesine, who found the set-up productions to be the most challenging of his 170 Sunset project shoots. In addition, he says that shooting subjects who are in the public eye is a challenge because "they have defense mechanisms already in place, because they've dealt with it so many times."
Conversely, he found it easier to photograph street subjects impromptu because "they're in their humanity, in their element."
Regardless, Ecclesine says he appreciates chronicling all walks of life: They're all "part of Los Angeles — the superficial and the deep."
'Faces of Sunset Boulevard'
Where: Los Angeles City Hall, Bridge Gallery, 200 N. Spring St., L.A.
When: Opening reception, 8 p.m. April 12. Regular hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Ends: May 4
Price: Free, but photo ID required
Info: (323) 314-8000, www.facesofsunset.com
|April 20th, 2007, 03:44 AM||#11|
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April 18, 2007
Art purchases advance Getty's ambitions
A gilded image of Christ and a classic French portrait bulk up the museum's collection.
By Suzanne Muchnic, Times Staff Writer
A medieval gilt-copper and enamel relief of Christ, thought to have come from a Spanish cathedral, and a 19th century portrait of a lady in her pink velvet dressing gown by French artist James Jacques Joseph Tissot have joined the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The new acquisitions — purchased privately for undisclosed sums in an ongoing effort to build the relatively young institution's art holdings — will go on view in May at the Getty Center in Brentwood.
"This is a fabulous piece," Antonia Bostro"m, curator of sculpture and decorative arts, said of the metal work "Christ in Majesty." About 18 inches tall — an unusually large example of its type — the artwork depicts a seated figure in a glass-jeweled robe, with his right hand raised in a blessing, left hand holding a Bible and feet attached to a rectangular enameled panel. The figure has "a sculptural presence," she says, but it was formed in high relief of a single sheet of copper enhanced by gilding and engraved details.
Made around 1188 in Limoges, France, the artwork was probably designed for the Cathedral of St. Martin in Ourense, in northwest Spain, where Christian pilgrims stopped on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Bostro"m says. The Christ figure is thought to have been part of an altarpiece that was dismantled in the early 19th century, possibly during the Napoleonic Wars. The Getty bought the work from a private collector in Spain.
"Christ in Majesty" initially will be displayed in a gallery of sculpture and decorative arts but it is intended as the centerpiece of a "Cathedral Treasury" expected to open early next year. The installation will be "a sacred space," Bostro"m says, putting the new acquisition in the context of Medieval and Renaissance stained glass, sculpture, decorative arts, paintings and manuscripts.
The Tissot painting, "Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, ne'e The're`se Feuillant," is an 1866 oil-on-canvas from what scholars call the golden age of fashionable portraiture in France. The 30-year-old subject stands by a fireplace in a room of the Cha^teau de Paulhac in the Auvergne, her husband's family seat. She is dressed in a flowing winter peignoir with ruffled borders and is surrounded by decorative objects favored by the rich — a Japanese screen and ceramics, a terra cotta bust of a family member, a Louis XVI stool holding a pile of needlepoint.
The first painting by Tissot to hang in a public collection in Los Angeles, the work will add an example from the Second Empire (1851-1870) to the museum's portraits. The De Young Museum in San Francisco has a Tissot self-portrait of the same period.
The Getty picture was exhibited only once, at the Paris World's Fair in 1867, curators Scott Schaefer and Mary Morton say. The painting was kept in the sitter's family until the museum bought it, through a French dealer.
"It's as fresh and perfect as they come," says conservator Mark Leonard, who cleaned the picture and removed its only flaw, some patches of yellowed varnish. A swatch of pink velvet from the gown, identical to the painted fabric and passed along to the Getty with the artwork, proves the point.
|April 27th, 2007, 04:13 AM||#12|
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Pop music critic Robert Hilburn lists his all-time favorite performances from the festival.
By Robert Hilburn, Special to the Times
April 27, 2007
The most dramatic moment of this weekend's Coachella festival will surely be when the four members of Rage Against the Machine step on stage together for the first time in seven years, but even that reunion will be hard pressed to match the drama of the politically charged band's initial appearance there.
Rage's tenacious set on the closing night of the inaugural festival in 1999 tops my list of Coachella's memorable moments because the very future of the event hung in the balance.
That first Coachella chapter came just weeks after the trauma of Woodstock 99, a festival in upstate New York so marred by violence that civic authorities and rock fans around the country wondered if massive outdoor concerts were still possible in these hardened times. Even a trace of the lawlessness of Woodstock 99 would have ruled out future Coachellas.
To discourage rowdiness, the festival promoters at Goldenvoice were careful to book quality artists they felt would appeal chiefly to fans who were truly interested in music, not hell-raising. Rage was a superb band that fit the alternative aims of the festival, but it played with such alarming emotion and force that its presence made many who planned to attend Coachella nervous. By the time Rage finished its spectacular performance, however, Coachella's future was secure. It was, in every way, the anti-Woodstock 99.
Here's my best-of-Coachella list:
Rage Against the Machine, 1999. Tension reached a peak near the end of Rage's set as fans in front of the stage moved to the music with alarming force. The band's Zack de la Rocha screamed the closing lines of "Guerrilla Radio," a song about striking back at oppression: "It has to start somewhere / It has to start sometime / What better place than here? / What better time than now?"
With emotions running so high in the audience, the fear was a repeat of the rampaging at Woodstock 99, where, among other things, hundreds of youths set bonfires, tore down at least two 50-foot light towers and attacked vendor trucks. Observers later blamed the rioting in large part on resentment of festival conditions, including overflowing toilets, lack of potable water and high-priced food. At Coachella, the promoters stressed fan comfort, which meant extra toilets, plenty of reasonably priced food and keeping the audience far below the capacity of the grounds to avoid overcrowding.
The key was that the Coachella fans didn't see the event as a target of a song like "Guerrilla Radio." Instead, they saw Coachella as something worth preserving: a haven of music, celebration and even social bonding. Thanks to both great performances such as Rage's and a warm, uplifting spirit, Coachella earned that all-essential element: fan trust. Indeed, the weekend represented a rebirth of the festival concept across the country.
Beck, 1999. This gifted singer-songwriter was another headliner at the opening Coachella festival, and, like Rage, he previewed songs from an upcoming album. In Beck's case, the music from "Midnite Vultures" was a bold step into a funk-driven R&B territory closer to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" period than Beck's earlier folk-shaded leanings. The slender auteur even wore a fringed flamboyant shirt and went through lots of Prince-inspired dance steps. It was a moment of sheer exhilaration for the 20,000 fans.
Beck also contributed to another special moment in 2004, one that again exemplified the informal spirit of Coachella. Just days before the show, Beck called Goldenvoice's Paul Tollett and asked if he could join the lineup, not on the main stage but in one of the smaller tents. He had been in the studio for months, and he wanted to "shake off some of the studio dust by playing before people." Beck was so relaxed he invited five fans on stage to play tambourine on a good-natured, folk-blues treatment of an old Kinks song. It was fun and disarming.
White Stripes, 2003. American rock 'n' roll was seriously in need of passionate new blood early in the new millennium, and the duo of singer-guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White seemed the one most capable of supplying it. They offered a captivating blend of spectacular sonic textures, superb songwriting and daring instincts. As a fan, I loved that the Stripes had generated enough momentum to land one of the key evening spots on the main stage, but I worried about whether they were up to such a challenge. They had never played an L.A. venue larger than the 900-capacity El Rey, and they'd be facing some 30,000 fans at Coachella. No problem. The set was exhilarating, demonstrating that the Stripes could reach a wide audience without compromising their artful and deeply personal music.
Arcade Fire, 2005. Here's another case of a great band making a triumphant leap. This young, Montreal-based group was playing clubs in town just months before stepping onto one of Coachella's main stages. The songs about loss and resilience on their brilliant "Funeral" album took on added vitality on stage because the band performed with such zest.
Nine Inch Nails, 2005. Coachella has hosted many comebacks but none as thrilling as this one. In the early and mid-'90s, NIN leader Trent Reznor's songs of alienation and self-loathing hit the rock mainstream with an anger and aggression that had rarely been seen. For a while after his "The Downward Spiral" album in 1994, Reznor seemed the likely successor to Kurt Cobain as the voice of a rock generation. But he went through an emotional, drug-driven spiral of his own that left his next album, 1999's "The Fragile," so dark and impenetrable that it all but ended his career. Indeed, he didn't have another album until 2005's "With Teeth."
On stage at Coachella, Reznor was more compelling than ever. In one of the new songs, "The Line Begins to Blur," he shared the confusion of his addiction: "There are things I would never do / There are fears I cannot believe have come true." It was a courageous, life-affirming hour.
|April 29th, 2007, 03:38 AM||#13|
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Coachella: thousands of fans and getting hotter every year
Rock lovers flock to the desert for what has become the concert.
By Geoff Boucher and Joel Rubin, Times Staff Writers
April 28, 2007
INDIO — No one can question Kevin Willock's pure determination to rock. Earlier this week under the slate-gray skies of a village called Burscough in western England, Willock and his friends set out on a pilgrimage. In Manchester they caught a flight to Boston, then another to Los Angeles. There was a few hours' sleep at a seedy motel before Friday morning, when the bleary group piled into a rental car and headed east into the furnace heat of the low desert.
As did Anthony Maldonado. The 17-year-old from Long Beach saved his allowance and joined his handyman father on the job to pay a scalper $100 for a one-day pass.
Pavel Malina, 33, and Daniel McLachlan, 24, drove in from Colorado, where they spent the winter as ski instructors. Their last-minute tickets were found on Ebay for $300 and $350.
All this just for a concert or, more accurately, the concert — the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. "When we first heard about it, we just knew we had to come," the 23-year-old Willock said.
Willock, Maldonado and the rest joined thousands of music fans hailing from all 50 states and two dozen countries, some paying scalpers $1,000 for a 3-day pass with a face value of $250, some hitchhiking their way across interstate highways — all to reach this small desert city that, just for this weekend, is the most important place in the world for rock music fans.
The festival began Friday, and will draw 60,000 people per day to the site for more than 30 hours of music from 122 bands as diverse as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arcade Fire, Bjo"rk and Arctic Monkeys.
With two outdoor stages and three tents, it ends in the wee hours Monday with the much-anticipated reunion of Rage Against the Machine. It's a huge crowd, but the number could easily have been twice that, according to promoters, who capped sales weeks ago. "We could have sold 120,000, easily," said festival founder Paul Tollett.
The 41-year-old Tollett started in the concert business in the 1980s, handing out fliers for an independent L.A. promoter called Goldenvoice; by 1991 he was co-owner and a major figure in the local punk and alt-rock scene.
Coachella, the dream project he launched in 1999, lost money the first two years but then became a major success, with grosses this year expected to top $15 million.
As Perry Farrell, former Jane's Addiction singer and Lollapalooza co-founder, said Friday after a mainstage performance with his new band, Satellite Party: "Coachella is the place music fans look to now for community and a sense of what is important. And when you talk about the West Coast, you're talking Coachella."
Huge concerts are hardly rare, of course, but the scene playing out this weekend 125 miles east of Los Angeles is a singular one. What began as a huge gamble is now a touchstone of the West Coast music scene, and the Coachella name enjoys loyalty in an era when the recording industry can't seem to count on much consumer love.
The success has been noticed: AEG Live, the concert industry powerhouse that bought Goldenvoice in 2001, bought half of the Coachella Festival in 2004. The festival itself has won a mountain of awards, and this year journalists have flown in from Europe and South America, while national publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin devoted pages of coverage to a festival that they largely ignored in the early days.
A 2006 documentary now serves as a primer for new fans, and posters from previous years sell steadily on the Internet. As with Woodstock in a different era, the number of people who say they saw Radiohead or the White Stripes at Coachella far outstrips the number who actually passed through the turnstiles.
This year, if you want to know who made it into the show at the Empire Polo Field, you can check sunburns as well as ticket stubs. The hot topic (literally) on Friday was just how hot it would actually get this weekend. Tempers ran high too, with a nasty bottleneck at the will-call tables, where fans who bought their ducats through Ticketmaster had waits of up to three hours.
"I'm already starting to look a little rosy," said Rory MacDonald, one of Willock's friends, somewhat concerned about what the intense desert sun would do to his fair skin.
Although concert organizers were preparing for intense action at the first-aid tent, plenty of festival-goers will be cooling off in the pools of local hotels — which often triple their rates for the duration of the event.
But the true Coachella experience is at the dusty and relentlessly hot campground adjacent to the concert grounds.
About 16,000 people are expected to pitch tents and sleep beneath the stars, creating a mad scramble Thursday and Friday for camping spots. By Friday, the campgrounds were filled with scenes of rock-show roughing-it: European flags were flying, drum circles gathered, joints were handed around and teens wearing fairy wings and body paint whirled beneath the sun.
"It's a hipster refugee camp," said Colin Burwahl, 24, seated in a lounge chair outside of the tent he is sharing with a friend, sporting a perfectly ripped T-shirt and aviator sunglasses. The pair made the nine-hour drive from Santa Rosa.
Aaron Smith, 25, who spent $400 for his ticket and $500 on airfare from Montreal, was thrilled he "got a $60 tent." Smith, who teaches French, had half a dozen empty water bottles cradled in his arms; at the festival, campers could turn in 10 empties to get a free bottle of water, a litter-curbing campaign. "I don't have much money left, so I'm cleaning up," he said.
Despite the Woodstock comparisons, the true template for Tollett's desert show was Britain's Glastonbury, the gloriously mad and inevitably muddy festival that draws fans from around the world. That's where the promoter got the concept of staging a massive show in a rural setting with the attitude of music connoisseurship.
Tollett is the hands-on shaper of Coachella, plucking out the names of new DJ stars, avant hip-hop acts and the next-big-thing indie band from the U.K. When he goes with safe and established stars, such as the Peppers, he actually takes heat from fans expecting "their" Coachella to have a safari spirit.
The site of Coachella has become as memorable as the acts booked. Ringed by craggy mountains in the low desert, the Empire Polo Field has immaculate white tents that are framed by the lush green lawns and purple skies at sunset. Tollett reduced the number of sponsorships in recent years as a bow to alt-rock kids weary of seeing banners and signs pitching products. Though the ticket prices haven't increased in three years, revenue should be up, with the festival expanding from two days to three for the first time this year.
The ethos of Coachella led to its biggest booking in years: Rage, a band notorious for strident activism and high political principles, agreed to play even before a specific money figure was negotiated.
"It is a great festival, and this is the right time and right place for us," guitarist Tom Morello said of the band's decision to play its first show since 2000, although he declined to say more. The group has been turning down interview requests and is expected to save its talking for the stage, which has only added to the stir of international interest. The bill also features three other notable reunions: the Jesus and Mary Chain, Crowded House and Happy Mondays.
"It's incredible. We plan our year around it — I use my vacation days," said Burwahl, who works in a paint retail store. "Do you know how many bands you get to see in these three days? You couldn't see this many in a year."
Many of the international travelers said that Coachella now carried potent name recognition abroad.
"It's amazing how many people here are from Canada," said shag-haired Matt MacDonald, a 24-year-old from Ontario who prowled the VIP area with his homeland's maple leaf flag draped on his shoulder like a cape. "We even ran into a Newfoundlander, which is about as far as you come from on this continent."
The scene also brings the stars out; Drew Barrymore, Jack Black, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow have been here in past years. Among those on the guest list this year: Barrymore, Diaz, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson and Danny DeVito. On Friday, in his backstage trailer, Tollett had Kelly Osbourne on the phone when Rosanna Arquette came up to hug him.
Over the last three years, more than a dozen festivals have sprung up all around the country using the Coachella model in part or whole, most notably Bonnaroo (in Tennessee) and Vegoose (in Las Vegas). That has made it harder for Tollett and company to book a show that looks decidedly different. Rage took care of this year nicely, but the pressure is already on for next year, with Tollett opening negotiations with agents and managers as the festival rages around him.
Coachella also is expected to have its largest audience watching from the shade of cyberspace. After some poor reviews of its webcast last year, AT&T Blue Room came to this year's festival with a crew of 95, 18 high-definition cameras and programming plans to capture 30 hours of music that can be seen at http://www.attblueroom.com .
"We never dreamed it could become what it is now," said Tollett. "For a lot of people here, this is a moment in their lives they'll never forget. The festival belongs to them now."
|April 29th, 2007, 05:31 PM||#14|
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It's more than just the music
By Ann Powers, Times Staff Writer
April 29, 2007
There are myriad ways to take in the massive sensory overload that is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. Many people cram in as much music as they can — more than 100 artists will have performed by the time the three-day event concludes tonight. But you could also just sit and read the T-shirts in the crowd as they go by.
Three randomly noted shirts added up to a cogent comment on the festival, which opened Friday at the Empire Polo Field. The first shirt featured the legendary art-punk band Richard Hell & the Voidoids. The second celebrated the video game Pokemon. The third extolled the jam band Blues Traveler.
Coachella reflects all of these influences. By featuring stars on the edge of (or wholly beyond) pop's mainstream — performers Friday included Bjo"rk, the reunited Jesus and Mary Chain, DJ Shadow and Sonic Youth — it connects the dots between art-punk elitism and today's "indie" culture.
Its loyalty to dance music, including club-friendly bands such as Friday standouts the Brazilian Girls, is part of the neo-psychedelic aesthetic that connects video games to raves and the interactive art installations that make Coachella's grounds a blast to walk.
And though this cutting-edge event is hardly a hippie gathering, the festival shares values with the jam-band scene: musical eclecticism, creature comforts and the belief that a crowd is always also a community.
This is Coachella's happy paradox: It features outstanding artists, but music is only one factor in its appeal.
There will always be truly special moments: Bjo"rk's opening-night set, featuring her new all-female brass band, was one, as was the Jesus and Mary Chain reunion. And the Rage Against the Machine reunion is still to come tonight.
But most of Coachella's artists will perform similar sets at many festivals this summer. As the desert event's influence expands and helps define America's summer concert season, the music still matters, but other things — the grounds, the food, the fun to be had beyond its five stages — matter even more. It's a tribute to Coachella's organizers that they've figured out how to enact the story those passing T-shirts tell.
|April 29th, 2007, 11:50 PM||#15|
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...nuts anyone, nuts in your mouth
by Flight Stewardess
|April 29th, 2007, 11:51 PM||#16|
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...nuts anyone, nuts in your mouth
by Flight Stewardess
|May 1st, 2007, 05:31 AM||#17|
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Celebrities rock Coachella Valley Music Festival
Despite the heat, a few scrapes and VIP infestation, a polite tradition was upheld.
By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writer
May 1, 2007
The perfect confluence of Coachella's new star cultures came Saturday during the Red Hot Chili Peppers set: That's when a giggling Paris Hilton climbed a stack of amps on the side of the stage, both to see and to be seen, while, a few yards away, Tom Morello, the firebrand guitarist of Rage Against the Machine — a man more interested in coups than club life — bobbed to the beat and tried to blend in beneath his ball cap.
The next night, Morello and his bandmates gave a searing finale to the biggest edition yet of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (three days, 123 bands, 60,000 people a day), an affair that went off smoothly for its size and sometimes dizzying heat. Coming in to the show, promoters had worried about the mosh pits for the Rage reunion (security was quadrupled for the band's set), but as the dust settles, perhaps they should be more concerned about the "celebrity problem," as a key member of on the show staff called it.
The VIP area was dense with star power, with Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Courtney Love, Nicky Hilton, Danny DeVito, Corbin Bernsen, Lars Ulrich, Jason Statham, Kelly Osbourne, Rosanna Arquette and others sweating like they were enrolled in the world's loudest celebrity summer camp. The concert grounds were also being prowled by paparazzi. This would be good if Coachella were an awards show, but promoter Paul Tollett acknowledged that the attention of the Us Weekly world is not what his festival needs to maintain credibility with rock kids.
The eighth Coachella festival was so vast and varied that fans left this low desert town with different memories of the affair. For some, it was the year of Rage returning to the main stage with its slabs of political rock; for others, it was the new faces in the tents, like the bracing first-festival set anywhere by the Klaxons. The deep bill had enough room for the Texas twang of Willie Nelson and the elfin opera of Bjo"rk, and the only completely shared memory was of the temperature, which hit triple digits.
The intense heat kept the medical tents busy, but none of the emergencies was life-threatening. By early Sunday evening, 41 people had been taken to a local hospital. Three fans, all in their 20s, were airlifted: a woman with a serious ankle fracture, a man with cuts from a fight and another man who tried to hop the fence of the venue and suffered a bad gash. Traffic was a challenge on the streets and at the venue, where lines (especially a major delay on Friday at the will-call windows) tested patience. But the festival seemed to hold on to its reputation as a surprisingly polite affair.
Arrests averaged about 30 each day, most for alcohol- and drug-related offenses, and Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said the biggest incident was early Sunday in the campground, where more than 15,000 fans pitched tents. In the predawn hours, a drum circle grew to a full-volume party, and, according to police, about 200 fans refused to comply with a restriction against overnight noise. One arrest was made. Some complained that police were too rough, but, by Sunday night, there seemed to be little lasting effect from the dust-up.
Inside the venue, Coachella organizers had created a multi-section barricade for the main stage and came up with a crisp plan to handle the crowd-surfing and moshing that came with Rage. For months, Tollett and company privately fretted that the lightning-in-a-bottle booking of Rage's first show since 2000 would make history, but they knew that it also came with risk considering the bruising nature of the band's gigs. During the set, fans began climbing the rigging set up for the sound board that sent security into a scramble. Other fans ignited flags, plastic bottles or debris, but none of it amounted to much. "We had a great plan in place, and we're just happy with the way it went," Tollett said Monday morning. He was on his way to a television interview to promote inaugural Stagecoach, next weekend's country music festival that is essentially a cousin to Coachella and is also being held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
Coachella this year sold tickets in all 50 states and in two dozen countries and has become the signature festival of the West Coast. Ticket grosses this year were about $16 million.
|May 1st, 2007, 08:18 AM||#19|
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Coachella: Three-day music festival becomes a phenomenon
Bruce Fessier and Maggie Downs
The Desert Sun
April 30, 2007
Many great cultures have begun with long wanderings in the desert.
This new phenomenon is a worldwide mix of cultures cemented by a love of diversity and an appreciation for new music you don't hear on commercial radio.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracted more than 180,000 people from all over the world this past weekend. The main draw was the Rage Against the Machine reunion, but no single band symbolizes Coachella.
Promoter Paul Tollett acts as if he and his staff at Goldenvoice just throw the Coachella line-up together like a toss of the I-Ching, but pop music critics consistently applaud the cutting-edge quality of his program.
A writer who's covered both Lollapalooza and Coachella said "Lollapalooza is like Coachella leftovers. Daft Punk (played) at Coachella '06, Lollapalooza this year. Iggy at Coachella '03, this year Lollapalooza."
"We don't have a specific guideline of which artists we book," Tollett said, "but we know what we like."
The promoter admitted that his original plan was to assemble many diverse bands with small but devoted followings.
"There was a whole set of people, pre-iPod, who were just listening to miscellaneous music and a lot of albums that were just selling 3,000 and 4,000 copies," Tollett said. "(We felt) maybe if you put a bunch of them together, that might be a magnet for a lot of people."
For some of those people Coachella is their first time away from their parents. It also represents an opportunity to dip their toes into the pool of self-expression.
This year, Ali Zandi of Calabasas dressed in a chicken suit to celebrate his 26th birthday.
"I figure everyone walking around here might be bored," Zandi said while posing for pictures with festival goers. "I'm trying to contribute and give everyone a good time at my expense."
Looking the part
The first Coachellas attracted people who tended to dress in the style of their favorite artists. There were goth kids, emo fans, neo-hippies, roots rockers and hip-hop stylists. But as the years went on, the attire shifted toward a celebration of youthful individuality as comfort in the triple-digit heat.
This year's Coachella attracted people dressed as Batman, Spider-Man and Wonder Woman. Some wore messages on their sun-screened skins as well as their T-shirts.
Even the bands praised the crowd.
"Thank you for being so polite," said Win Butler of Arcade Fire, addressing the main stage audience during the band's Saturday night set. "Manners are the cornerstone of a prosperous society."
On good behavior
The images depicted in '60s films such as "Woodstock" and "Gimme Shelter" connected impressions of drunkenness and violence with music festivals. Talisha Tolliver, a 30-ish school teacher from Moreno Valley, was reticent to come to Coachella because of that preconception, but joined a friend from Washington D.C. and was pleasantly surprised by what she found.
"I like the atmosphere," she said. "I was expecting a bunch of drunk people. It's OK right now."
The good behavior, combined with the cutting edge music and spirit of individuality has attracted business sponsors who are content to form ties with Coachella, even though they're not allowed to put up banners inside the festival grounds for fear of spoiling the precious alternative vibe.
Instead, planes towed banners above the Empire Polo Club, promoting everything from the new Crowded House album to a tattoo expo in Pomona.
Many businesses throw parties as far as 30 miles away, such as GQ, which hosted a three-night post-Coachella bash at the Viceroy Palm Springs. Hugo Boss, which plans to launch a clothing line aimed at young hipsters, held private parties at the MOD Resort in Palm Desert.
The Coachella crowd is also a desirable demographic for organizations looking to inspire a new generation, like Veterans Against the Iraq War, World Can't Wait (a group seeking to impeach President Bush) and Global Inheritance, a non-profit environmental group.
"I'm jazzed there are as many young people here as there are," said Jamez Smith of Los Angeles, who was DJing in a converted port-o-potty for Global Inheritance. "And I'm even more jazzed to see that there are even young children and babies.
"We've got a planet to save, and it's the young people who are going to do it."
But it's not all young people at Coachella.
Alan Kaufman, 50, of Los Angeles attended this year with his 16-year-old daughter and her friends.
"It's a wonderful sampling of the current sounds," Kaufman said. "When I was a kid and went to a lot of festivals, it was much more chaotic and raunchy. This is actually pretty well-organized."
Well-organized, and with a sense of community.
"It's like you become a part of something greater than yourself," said Andrew Collins, 23, of Chicago, attending his third Coachella.
"You're not just listening to music. You've survived."
Last edited by Saiholmes; May 2nd, 2007 at 07:37 AM.
|May 3rd, 2007, 01:31 AM||#20|
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I so wish I couldve gone to Coachella, so many great bands... mustve been amazing
"Ignorance is Bliss"