Thursday, June 26, 2008

L.A. and D.C. Theater

Don Shirley's written a smart article about theater in Washington, D.C. in this week's City Beat. I appreciate his interest in local theater that is neither New York nor L.A. He draws a lot of contrasts between the D.C. and L.A. scenes; I'm not sure how I feel about some of his declarations about the local theater here, but there's much to think about, regardless. Here's a sample:
For this Angeleno, the biggest kick of D.C. theater right now is the recent expansion of some of the capital city’s most adventurous companies, operating on Actors’ Equity contracts within gorgeous new post-industrial spaces that seat between 200 and 500.

In L.A., many of the more cutting-edge companies seem to be permanently trapped in low-profile spaces that seat fewer than 100, where the actors are paid chicken feed ... er, the token fees allowed under Equity’s L.A.-based 99-Seat Theater Plan.

It might be easy to conclude that Washingtonians must be more adventurous theatergoers than Angelenos, but I say the problem is rooted in L.A.’s excessive supply of actors.


Too many actors think of theater as something they might do on the side, in between screen jobs – and after a few such excursions, they burn out. Too many of these theaters are so tiny that they hardly make a dent in public consciousness, no matter how good their offerings – especially when there are so many of them competing with each other for theatergoers.

In Washington, by contrast, there is no 99-Seat Theater Plan. Companies that want to use professional actors have to hire them on some form of an Equity contract. In order to pay for it, they want to be able to sell more than 99 seats per performance.
He's not without criticism of the D.C. scene, though. I liked this last bit too:
Of course, the cohesion also stems in part from D.C.’s smaller size, and smaller isn’t always better. It was jarring to see a play populated by Mexican characters cast with no Spanish-surnamed actors. And it was notable that a playwright from L.A.’s 99-seat arena, EM Lewis, won a prize at the conference, for Heads.
Okay, so there's an excuse for a theater post for you; I haven't really attempted one of those in a while. Although half the reason I posted that was to give an excuse to congratulate my friend EM Lewis for winning the Primus Prize for Heads. Go L.A. playwrights!

There's a sweet little article

in LAWeekly this week by Dave White about him and his partner getting gay-married at the La Brea Tar Pits. Here's a sample:
At 10 a.m. on the dot, our good friend Aaron, ordained on the Internet for $5 from a church made of air and extremely pliant beliefs, turned his iPhone sideways and read our vows. We I do’d, everyone cheered, and it was over in 60 seconds. We’ve been together for 13 years already; to wait a minute longer for what we came to get would have tried what patience we had left. A family of fanny-pack-wearing tourists stopped to watch. (“We went to those La Brea Tar Pits and saw two fat homosexuals get married and kiss each other right out in the open.”) Then a 5-year-old attendee pelted us with birdseed. Then he got another handful and did it again. Photos were taken between the perpetually sinking prehistoric witnesses, followed by a caravan to Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts at the Farmers Market.
The article is here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not much to report here

except I saw four plays and two movies from Thursday through Monday. Thankfully all the theaters were air-conditioned.

The highlight was, of course, March On, Dream Normal at Lucid-By-Proxy, by Fell Swooper Jeanette Scherrer. It was staged with a kind of unadorned naturalism that made me feel like I was spying on them. I loved that. And yet, in the context of that style, there were quite a few sharply theatrical moments. Unfortunately I tend to get to things on closing weekend so I can't recommend it, but hopefully you had the good sense to see it before it went away.

Go Fell Swoop!

I'm not going to mention much about the rest of the plays; email me if you want deets. I will say there was a certain train-wrecky awesomeness in Hollywood on Saturday afternoon at a certain theater named after a certain TV star from the 70s-80s that is totally worth it if you can get a free/cheap ticket.

As for movies, did you see The Incredible Hulk? Is that actually its title, or has it gone the way of Cher, Madonna, and Beyonce? Hulk? I forget; I'll IMDB later, I guess. Either way, it's worth the price of admission for the squad-car-turned-boxing-gloves moment alone.

Last night I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller at the New Beverly, which was mainly a practice in frustration -- loads of whispering film school types, the glaring light of text messaging, lots of coming and going for cigarette breaks, and some guy snoring in the back -- but the last 20 minutes of that movie are beyond worth any audience bother you could toss at me. It's all so great that everyone pretty much settled down and let themselves be riveted by all that snow and silence.

Next up, my Patricia Racette and La Rondine!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just to correct the record

Josh Homme is not a homophobe. He wrote it in a letter!

(Thanks Stereogum!)

Here's my favorite passage:
For years now I've known gay is not a choice; one's skin color doesn't determine one's intelligence level; & red hair doesn't mean you're someone's stepchild. You see, it's not the words, it's their intent. I never said, nor suggested, that being gay is wrong, but apparently, based on your outrage to my flu-infused rant, you do! By that logic... I also told that young whipper snapper I'd have anal sex with him... how can I possibly reconcile these opposing viewpoints?
Okay, if I'm to decipher the above passage, I believe he's suggesting that threatening anal rape makes him pro-gay. Well that changes everything then! Thanks for clearing that up, Josh!

Alright, listen, you want to impress me with your progressive attitude towards your gay friends and family? Write a fat check to the LGBT organization of your choice, record a PSA, or hell, just issue a real, coherent apology that proves you're smart enough to understand the consequences of spewing a violently homophobic tirade in front of a huge crowd, full of camera-wielding fans more than willing to make your hate speech viral. Because I'm not convinced.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wedding pictures

LAist has a nice post with a slide show from West Hollywood's Wedding Park, established for all the lovely couples. Check it out here.

And here's a slideshow from LAWeekly featuring George Takei!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the wake

of our historic California moment -- and I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, but I've never seen such a gay news cycle as I've seen in the past few days -- I thought it instructive to offer a lesson in the ways in which Josh Homme of Palm Desert-based band Queens of the Stone Age is contributing to the conversation about gay rights.

Come on, Josh, quit pretending you're a top. Oh, and P.S., your band is lame.

Find a more reasonable take on the issue here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer reads

I finished two paperbacks over the weekend. One was Mississippi Sissy, which is overwrought and frustrating, as gay coming-of-age memoirs go. I did find it worthwhile, though, if only for its depiction of Eudora Welty socializing with the narrator's brief, adoptive family of thoughtful southern outsiders. There wasn't nearly enough of that.

The other was Elliott Smith and The Big Nothing, which I read as research, but never mind. The book isn't really much of a biography in one regard, but still a nice enough's sad and sweet and totally rock-n-roll. I love the rambling quotations from some of his musician friends and the whole introspective-rock-geek cadence of their speech. I've been on a steady diet of Elliott lately, but I've been cutting it with a heavy dose of Sleater-Kinney (the whole Janet Weiss/Portland connection seems apt, and those women never let me down) to keep me from getting bogged down in it all.

Up next, the other four books lying around my apartment half-finished! Wish me luck!

I need to update this

but don't have much to say, so I'm going to direct you to Ernessa's blog, since she's updated it a lot lately. Read it here.

Okay, now I'm off to countdown to the Weeds season premiere. I got caught up during a recent marathon and I'm obsessed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Up in Paso

JW and I are up here in Paso Robles for his birthday. You can always remember JW's birthday because it's Flag Day. That's FLAG Day. FLAG. Got it? Flag Day is tomorrow, so sometime between today and tomorrow you should wish JW a happy birthday in the comments, or send him an email if you know him well enough to do so. Or email me and I'll forward it. Happy Birthday JW!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Edge of Heaven

Have you seen this movie yet? You should. It was made by Fatih Akin, who made another tough little movie called Head-On; like that movie, this one is also in German and Turkish, with a fascinatingly structured script that I'd consider brash and daring if it weren't for how moving and rich the subject matter is. Okay, I still consider it brash and daring, but it's doubly rewarding because those qualities are in service of such a deep and thematically sophisticated story. Narrative threads ricochet off each other, offering meaningful, ironic parallels in events and characters; red herrings reinforce the frustrating arbitrariness of life's experiences while containing subtle mirroring elements that reinforce their universality. It's political without confrontation, emotional without sentimentality. It seems to me the work of an extremely jaded optimist. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I went to Pomona

for The Fiery Furnaces. How's that for fan commitment?

Honestly, I wouldn't have done it if I could've made either of their Spaceland dates over the weekend, but I had things going on and missed them. Plus, I've always looked for an excuse to go to The Glass House in Pomona, so this was as good as any. I think Fiery Furnaces' concert devotees should have a nickname. Do they?

One of the upsides of going to the show was the nice kickboxer/wine enthusiast who poured me a zin at the nearby art gallery/wine bar while I waited for the show to start. He even popped in mid-smoke-break to see if I needed a second glass.

The other highlight was the fact that they're selling their 2-CD live disc at the merch tables even though it's not been released in stores yet, so I was loving that all day today during the commute. The LATimes printed an article by John Payne about it on Sunday. Here's a sampling:
The Furnaces' upcoming "Remember" album, due out in August, is a double-CD (and triple-LP) set of live recordings that serves as a retrospective on the band's career. In keeping with the New York-based duo's fiercely experimental aesthetic, though, the 51 songs on the release have been re-edited and recombined so as to create completely new musical vistas.

While "Remember" is the band's most radical project yet, it's certainly not their first attempt at such a substantially, well, epic undertaking.

"We did a tour where we did a version of the 'Rehearsing My Choir' record, which is rearranged from the original material," Matt Friedberger says of the Furnaces' 2005 album, which features the siblings' grandmother telling the story of her life. "Then another tour we did for the 'Bitter Tea' album, it was totally rearranged. 'Bitter Tea' is not a very rock 'n' roll record, there's not much guitar playing. But on one tour we played it as guitar rock. You want to make it a different record live."
The story is here.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I did some shopping

with JW on Saturday at the WeHo Target, which is always an adventure. During a stop at the ATM, a couple of trans girls came stomping past us declaring they were having a "transsexual march," before exiting out the front door. The employees working the exchange counter nearby announced to their customers that security had been getting after them for shoplifting. JW was of course oblivious to all of this and I had to relate the details in the car as we were leaving.

Later, as we pushed a shopping cart through the aisles, we overheard the following cell phone monologue:
I figure it's only a matter of time before we have that conversation, you know? He says, "I've been waiting for you to ask me if I'm only interested in you for you money," at which point I'll say "I've been waiting for you to ask me if I'm only interested in you for your age!"
This guy was so loud there was no way JW could be oblivious to him. I responded, loud enough to be just as overheard, "If we're lucky he'll wait a little longer and have that conversation in private."

And so ends this installment of "A Day in the Life of Discount Retail in the Gay Ghetto." Coming up next week, we'll visit the nearby Best Buy for store numbers on the new Madonna album and shop for sporty tank tops at the Old Navy on La Cienega. Stay tuned!