JAZZ CONCERTS THEATER
DANCE ART COMEDY TV
SCORING THE CLUBS
July 14 - 20, 2000
We also recommend: Adventures in Wild California, After Life, The Big Kahuna, Chicken Run, Chuck & Buck, Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man, Croupier, Disney’s The Kid, East Is East, East-West, Gladiator, Groove, Hamlet, Jesus’ Son, Judy Berlin, Keeping the Faith, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, M:I-2, The Other Conquest, Praise, Shanghai Noon, Small Time Crooks, Sunshine, Sweet Jane, X-Men.
Director Anatole Litvak’s The Long Night (1947) opens with a series of documentary shots overlooking some of America’s better-known and idealized working-class towns, heart and hearth of the recently ended industrial war effort: Youngstown, Ohio; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Gary, Indiana. Then, on the fourth image of yet another wide skyline of brick homes and smoke stacks, the voice-over takes a sharp turn: "And this is, well, it doesn’t really matter much." This sudden refusal to give a name to the town where the film’s story will unfold — because it’s a "story that could happen anywhere," we’re told — immediately undermines the authority evoked by the roll call of bread-and-butter burgs that came before. This film isn’t set "anyplace," it goes down "no place," an empty, existential dead zone of betrayed ideals that has opened up in the middle of America. From this nameless if eerily familiar nowhere, Litvak draws a gnawing sense of insecurity and ambiguity that gives this newly "discovered" film noir its devastating punch. A remake of Marcel Carnés’ masterpiece of French poetic realism, Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Litvak’s film stars Henry Fonda as Joe — natch — an ex-GI who, emotionally and spiritually cut off from the America he knew before the war, falls in love with a small-town girl (Barbara Bel Geddes). But when she’s seduced by a traveling showman (Vincent Price, at his pre-horror oily best), Joe reacts badly, killing his rival and holing up in a shabby hotel room with a bloodthirsty army of cops and an angry mob outside. As past and present converge (we get Joe’s story in flashback), and tension builds, it becomes increasingly clear that there will be no satisfying explanation for what Joe has done. There’s only the unsettling knowledge that whatever forces drove him to kill a man are out loose in the world now, wandering the streets of even the smallest town.
Other recommended new releases: All About My Mother (VHS-DVD), Jaws: Special Edition (VHS-DVD), Steam: The Turkish Bath (VHS).
Also released this week:
VHS: Behind the Scenes With JoAnn Falletta, Behind the Scenes With Robert Gil de Montes, I Am Frigid . . . Why?, The Minion, The Real Macaw, Sleeping Dogs, Where’s Marlowe?
VHS-DVD: The 4th Floor, Active Stealth, Boiler Room, Down to You, Gorgeous, The Hurricane, Mansfield Park.
DVD: Anatomy of a Murder, The Frightened Woman, Funeral, My Dog Skip, Pretty Models All in a Row, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.
Search the archives of films on video.
"Now and forever," gushed then–film critic Luis Buñuel in
1927, "the architect will replace the set designer. Film will be the
faithful translator of the architect’s boldest dreams." Buñuel was
responding to Erich Kettlehut’s work in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
(showing later in this series), but he could as easily have been raving
about Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924), a buried treasure of the early
Soviet era in which the architecture by Alexandra Exter is arguably the
star. The tale director Yakov Protazanov spins (from a novel by Leo
Tolstoy’s nephew Aleksei) is a melodramatic polyglot of Buck Rogers and
proletarian uplift. A daydreaming engineer (Nikolai Tsereteli) fantasizes
that a better life awaits him on Mars, in the arms of its sexy,
Cleopatra-like queen (the gorgeous Yulia Solntseva). Or is he fantasizing?
Queen Aelita seems to be daydreaming about him as well, watching our hero
and his wife through a telescope, pining in wonder at what a kiss must
feel like. When the engineer discovers his wife is cheating on him (or
seems to be), he blasts off for Mars together with a sidekick and a scurvy
secret policeman. Faster than you can say "Karl Marx," they provoke the
race of slaves toiling in the bowels of Mars to rise up in revolution.
Such propaganda is wonderfully cornball, like a TV soap commercial from
the American 1950s, and the sluggishness of the plot is redeemed two ways:
First by the offhanded portrait we get of Soviet life in the early ’20s,
but, above all, by the dazzling costumes and sets, whose fluid triangular
rhythms recall Leon Bakst’s designs for Nijinsky. Judged as imaginative
vision, Aelita, Queen of Mars is still fresh and forceful. Also
screening this week: the 1936 futurama Things To Come; the 1925
precursor to Crichton & Spielberg, The Lost World; Lang’s
Metropolis; and King Kong. (The Silent Movie Theater, 611
N. Fairfax Ave., Hlywd.; Tues.-Sun., July 18-23; see Revival Houses for
schedule. For further information, call 323-655-2520 or log on to http://www.silentmovietheater.com/.)
"Now and forever," gushed then–film critic Luis Buñuel in 1927, "the architect will replace the set designer. Film will be the faithful translator of the architect’s boldest dreams." Buñuel was responding to Erich Kettlehut’s work in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (showing later in this series), but he could as easily have been raving about Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924), a buried treasure of the early Soviet era in which the architecture by Alexandra Exter is arguably the star. The tale director Yakov Protazanov spins (from a novel by Leo Tolstoy’s nephew Aleksei) is a melodramatic polyglot of Buck Rogers and proletarian uplift. A daydreaming engineer (Nikolai Tsereteli) fantasizes that a better life awaits him on Mars, in the arms of its sexy, Cleopatra-like queen (the gorgeous Yulia Solntseva). Or is he fantasizing? Queen Aelita seems to be daydreaming about him as well, watching our hero and his wife through a telescope, pining in wonder at what a kiss must feel like. When the engineer discovers his wife is cheating on him (or seems to be), he blasts off for Mars together with a sidekick and a scurvy secret policeman. Faster than you can say "Karl Marx," they provoke the race of slaves toiling in the bowels of Mars to rise up in revolution. Such propaganda is wonderfully cornball, like a TV soap commercial from the American 1950s, and the sluggishness of the plot is redeemed two ways: First by the offhanded portrait we get of Soviet life in the early ’20s, but, above all, by the dazzling costumes and sets, whose fluid triangular rhythms recall Leon Bakst’s designs for Nijinsky. Judged as imaginative vision, Aelita, Queen of Mars is still fresh and forceful. Also screening this week: the 1936 futurama Things To Come; the 1925 precursor to Crichton & Spielberg, The Lost World; Lang’s Metropolis; and King Kong. (The Silent Movie Theater, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Hlywd.; Tues.-Sun., July 18-23; see Revival Houses for schedule. For further information, call 323-655-2520 or log on to http://www.silentmovietheater.com/.)
The universal appeal of jazz can be seen in the numbers
of practitioners who hail from locations other than the U.S.A. The
Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz is full of references to New Zealanders who
play swing, Norwegians who have combined jazz rhythms with Scandanavian
folk traditions and Poles who play more outside than David Murray.
Europeans of all sorts have embraced this music, and such continentals as
violinist Stephane Grappelli, pianist Michel Petrucciani and trumpeter
Kenny Wheeler, among many, many others, have made impressions on the art
form and its American audiences. One jazz giant less known in the States
is pianist Guido Manusardi, arguably Europe’s most recorded jazz pianist.
Born in Chiavenna, Manusardi has lived and played all over the continent.
He met the bassist Red Mitchell in Stockholm back in 1967, and their
acquaintance led to his introduction to a host of important musicians.
Over his career, Manusardi has accompanied the likes of Don Byas, Dexter
Gordon, Slide Hampton and Art Farmer and has recorded with Roy Eldridge,
Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton and Lee Konitz. For these, his first U.S.
performances, Manusardi joins another prolific recording artist, master
drummer Billy Higgins, for a trio of dates around town. Also in the group
is the fine bassist Trevor Ware and Italian saxophonist Toni Germani. At
MOCA, Thurs., July 13; World Stage, Fri., July 14; the Jazz Spot, Sat.,
July 15. —Bill Kohlhaase We also recommend: Ray Barretto at Jazz Bakery,
Fri.-Sun.; Jonathan Moritz at Rocco, Fri.; Jeff Clayton at
the Bel Age, Fri.-Sat.; Hiram Bullock at Catalina Bar & Grill,
Fri.-Sun.; Herb Ellis, Mundell Lowe, Ted Greene, John Pisano at
Rocco, Mon.; David Friesen at Rocco, Wed.
The universal appeal of jazz can be seen in the numbers of practitioners who hail from locations other than the U.S.A. The Grove Encyclopedia of Jazz is full of references to New Zealanders who play swing, Norwegians who have combined jazz rhythms with Scandanavian folk traditions and Poles who play more outside than David Murray. Europeans of all sorts have embraced this music, and such continentals as violinist Stephane Grappelli, pianist Michel Petrucciani and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, among many, many others, have made impressions on the art form and its American audiences. One jazz giant less known in the States is pianist Guido Manusardi, arguably Europe’s most recorded jazz pianist. Born in Chiavenna, Manusardi has lived and played all over the continent. He met the bassist Red Mitchell in Stockholm back in 1967, and their acquaintance led to his introduction to a host of important musicians. Over his career, Manusardi has accompanied the likes of Don Byas, Dexter Gordon, Slide Hampton and Art Farmer and has recorded with Roy Eldridge, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton and Lee Konitz. For these, his first U.S. performances, Manusardi joins another prolific recording artist, master drummer Billy Higgins, for a trio of dates around town. Also in the group is the fine bassist Trevor Ware and Italian saxophonist Toni Germani. At MOCA, Thurs., July 13; World Stage, Fri., July 14; the Jazz Spot, Sat., July 15.
We also recommend: Ray Barretto at Jazz Bakery, Fri.-Sun.; Jonathan Moritz at Rocco, Fri.; Jeff Clayton at the Bel Age, Fri.-Sat.; Hiram Bullock at Catalina Bar & Grill, Fri.-Sun.; Herb Ellis, Mundell Lowe, Ted Greene, John Pisano at Rocco, Mon.; David Friesen at Rocco, Wed.
We throw the word “sophistication” around quite a bit when it comes to describing music and musicians. But the word is used no better than when it’s applied to Nancy Wilson, a class act if there ever was one. Wilson’s discovery is often credited to Cannonball Adderley, but the Chillicothe, Ohio, native was touring with Rusty Bryant’s band, recording with pianist George Shearing and making records for Dot and Capitol (with arranger Gerald Wilson) before her breakthrough LP, Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley, was released in 1962. In the ’60s, while traditional vocalists fell like trees before the dull ax of rock & roll, Wilson continued to collect hits, with nine singles making the Hot 100 list between ’63 and ’71, and record such honored documents as Lush Life, with arrangements from Billy May and Oliver Nelson, and The Nancy Wilson Show!, recorded live at the Cocoanut Grove. Old-time Angelenos may remember her mid-’70s TV show on KNBC, which attracted such guests as Milt Jackson and Ahmad Jamal and won Nancy an Emmy. Long an activist for a number of African-American and education issues, Wilson still continues to be a first-rate entertainer, singing with the unique tone and poignancy that has earned her respect for some four decades. Here, she’ll appear with another class act, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, whose director, John Clayton, is equally sophisticated (in the manner of Duke Ellington) when it comes to all things jazz. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; Wed., July 19, 8 p.m.; $85-$5. (323) 850-2000.
La Bottine Souriante
Take some foot-stompin’ fiddle ’n’ squeezebox fare, throw in a brass cup of horns and season with full-throated French-Canadian vocals, and you get the wacky exuberance that is La Bottine Souriante. Loosely translated as the “smiling ankle boot,” the Quebec-based band has been getting on the good foot of audiences in North America and Europe for more than 20 years. Although suspicions might arise from the over-the-top praise lavished on their live act from rootsy Brit crits and Yank folkies (go figure, since their recent CD, Rock & Reel, was inexplicably deemed a “Dud of the Month” by Village Voice poo-bah Robert Christgau), these bootie boys definitely know how to let les bons temps rouler. As their Québecois trad selves power down like the best of their Celt and Cajun kin, those irrepressible horns swoop in with Dixieland toodle-oo or Latin-style caramba. They twist some old tunes — “Medley des Eboulements” (“Landslide Village Medley”) and “Reel du Forgeron” (“The Blacksmith’s Reel”) — into playful new shapes, with Denis Frechette’s accordion speeding down the straightaway, while the four-piece brass-and-reed brigade runs red lights off the cross streets. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate Bastille Day than with these distant cousins of Robespierre, Aznavour, Rocket Richard and Paddy Moloney. “Grand Performances” at California Plaza, 350 Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri., July 14, noon & 8 p.m.; free. (213) 687-2159.
Metallica, Korn, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000
Metallica, Korn, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000
Is this bill a hard-rock lover’s delight or what? Detroit
Rock City’s number-one pimp, Kid Rock, makes with the noise and the rhymes
in his livin’-large, over-the-top style, thanks in large part to the
Twisted Brown Trucker Band, the secret of his crossover success. Nu-metal
knockoff Powerman 5000 don’t bring a whole lot to the aggro table, but
lead singer Mike “Spider” Cummings is Rob Zombie’s younger brother, and
his cool coif rivals his big bro’s. Still, the band are where they are
solely on their moshable merits. Though pegged metal-hoppers, Korn are
guitar-driven; they do not have a DJ/scratcher/sampler, and lead singer
Jonathan Davis only does a dime’s worth of actual rapping any more. Korn
are increasingly giving into their new-romantic impulses, so expect their
next record to be even more synthed-out and dark-wavey than last year’s
Issues. It’s bad enough Metallica got hoity-toity using outsider
artist Andres Serrano’s provocative images for the cover of Load
and setting their lighter-hoisting anthems to a 100-piece orchestra, but
now these greedy bastards are taking on the role of the RIAA’s unofficial
spokespersons with their lawsuit against Napster, an affront to fans and
artists everywhere. But enough — this is Mefuckin’tallica, dude! Let’s
just hope drummer Lars Ulrich doesn’t get up on his stool to chide the
crowd for downloading illegal MP3s of his band. L.A. Memorial Coliseum,
3911 S. Figueroa St.; Sat., July 15, 4 p.m. (213) 480-3232, or go to http://www.mtv.com/.
Miriam Makeba, Albita, Toshi Reagon
Miriam Makeba, Albita, Toshi Reagon
Miriam Makeba, the first lady of African song, is one of
the cornerstones of African music, an internationally established star
decades before world beat brought her a new generation of fans. Exiled
from her South African birthplace since 1960, this majestic matriarch from
the Motherland finally returned after the fall of apartheid, but she has
always carried the sound and the soul of home in her art and life. Brave
and magnificent, Makeba has become a political activist as well as one of
the most universally appreciated African artists, a reference point and
role model for legions of female singers. With her proud and glorious
voice soaring over rich harmonies and rhythms, she has the ability to turn
a public performance into an intimate glimpse of her soul. Also on this
Global Divas bill are the incomparable Cuban vocalist Albita, performing
traditional sons and guajiras, and folk-rocker Toshi Reagon
(daughter of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Bernice Johnson Reagon). Hollywood
Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; Sun., July 16, 7 p.m. (323) 850-2000 or (213)
480-3232, or visit http://www.hollywoodbowl.org/.
The title of Timothy Mason’s compelling drama comes from an obscure biblical passage — fitting for a play exploring the oppression wreaked upon a family by its unseen, all-powerful patriarch. And, as with most Bible stories, dark secrets (infidelity and domestic violence for starters) abound in this production, directed by Judy Welden. In 1950, three Wisconsin farm women cope in different ways with Gunnar, the repressive head of the clan. Daughter Faith (Rachel Babcock) escapes to Chicago and college, while her sister Charity (D.J. Harner) has married her dimwit high school sweetheart, Jerry (Joe Colligan). And mother Eunice (Ivy Jones) has resigned herself to a prisonlike existence after her husband cruelly thwarts her only chance to flee. Spanning 13 years, Mason’s drama follows the course of family tensions, which ultimately bubble over, exploding in a chilling conclusion. The great cast expertly balances Mason’s abundant humor and heartfelt pathos, with Jones’ long-suffering Eunice standing out. (After Faith confirms her boyfriend is Jewish, a deadpan Eunice declares, "So was our Lord.") There’s nary a false note in Welden’s staging. Sydney Z. Litwack’s meticulous farm-kitchen set adds authenticity, and William Taylor steals many a scene as Faith’s rumpled and caring beau. Eclectic Company Theater, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Aug. 13. (818) 508-3003.
29 Views of Hwang Chin-I
Drawn from a patchwork of historical accounts and Korean legends, Stephen Legawiec’s elegant portrait of a 16th-century kisaeng (the Korean equivalent to a geisha) subtly cracks the emotional surface of one woman’s life. Legawiec also directs the 29 separate vignettes that follow Hwang Chin-i (Jenny Woo) from childhood to adulthood. As a teenage courtesan, she pines for an adventurous soldier named Yi. Years later, heavy hearted and emotionally wearied by the thousands of men who have paid for her charm and grace, she is unable to recognize Yee when he returns, her childlike imagination never having surrendered his boyish visage. Despite the relatively minor shortcomings of the dramaturgy (Legawiec tends to lose himself in the intellectualism of his conceit), Woo delivers a powerful performance as the seductress, accompanied only by a stringed gayageum (and several other traditional instruments) played by June Yee. And though occasionally foundering between folklore and biography, 29 Views of Hwang Chin-i presents the stirring story of an enigmatic figure. Gascon Center Theater, 8737 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru July 15. (310) 471-0545.
Much ado About Nothing
Shakespeare’s 400-year-old comic romp about love and villainy poses questions about gender roles that continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. Director Brendon Fox sets the comedy at a modern, upper-class American estate, complete with tennis court and spa, where a group of young soldiers and their girlfriends roam in and out of relationships as respite from the wars that have just been waged. The only troubling aspect of their lives is how soon Claudio (Darin Singleton) and Hero (Terrilynn Towns) will marry and whether the crowd can trick boastful Benedick (Geoffrey Lower) and belligerent Beatrice (Stephanie Erb) into loving one another. But the harmony is threatened by the cruel, Iago-esque Don John (Rob Nagle). The acting in this brisk, well-cut adaptation is outstanding throughout. Lower and Erb take great advantage of Beatrice and Benedick’s customary show-stealing scenes, but here Singleton and Towns hold their own, boosting the usually less interesting Claudio and Hero to the fore. The outdoor set is gorgeously created by Yael Pardess, with remarkable lighting by Trevor Norton. Adding to the production are Jeff Ladman’s sound design and Gabe Lopez’s original music. Shakespeare Festival/L.A. at Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sun., July 13-16, 8:30 p.m.; free with donation of canned food. Then at South Coast Botanic Gardens, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula; Thurs.-Sun., July 20-30, 8:15 p.m. (no perfs July 24-25). (310) 377-4316.
We also recommend: Acme McBeal, Asylum, The Comic Ozzies, Electra . . . I Hate My Momma and Stepdaddy!, False Bravado, The Father, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, The Jewish Wife/The Informer, Jews Without Money, The Last Outpost, Late Nite Catechism, L.A. Connection’s Sketch This!, The Master and Margarita, MedeaText: Los Angeles/Despoiled Shore, The Night the Moon Landed on 39th Street, The Perks, A Post-Modern Vaudeville Show, A Raisin in the Sunday Show, Snakebit, The Square, The Taming of the Shrew, Touch, Wild Life, You Bet Your Honkey, You Can’t Take It With You, Zastrozzi.
L.A.’s premier summer terpsichorean festival returns with five performances at four different venues featuring 28 artists and companies. The series actually began on July 5 with a free lunchtime preview at California Plaza, but Kaleidoscope 2000 officially opens this weekend with two performances at Cal State L.A. While most participants were selected through an audition process, Friday’s opening performers were invited. Look for Tongue artistic director Stephanie Gilliland; Jim Orrante, now principal dancer at Ohio’s Ballet Met; and noted choreographer Jeff Slayton, who has dedicated his new work to his late wife, dancer/choreographer Viola Farber. Loretta Livingston debuts her collaboration with video artist Kate Johnson, Linda Sohl-Donnell teams with musician M.B. Gordy, flamenco dancer Laila del Monte pairs with her guitarist husband, Adam, and Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts closes the program. Saturday’s showcase features site-specific contact improvisation from Shel Wagner and Stefan Fabry, an excerpt from Helios Dance Theater’s work inspired by Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Ballet Folklorico del Pacifico, and solos from Marie de la Palme, Cindera Che, Robin Prichard, Naked With Shoes’ Jeffrey Grimaldo, Aida Amirkhanian and Swetha Bharadvaj.
At last year’s Kaleidoscope the splendid The Horse’s Mouth brought a range of living dance legends onstage in an intriguing blend of structured improvisation, articulated memory and movement that instigators and directors Tina Croll and James Cunningham have dubbed "living documentary." Croll and Cunningham are back with a new edition, The Horse’s Mouth Greets the New Millennium, to be performed at the Japan America Theater on July 22. Among the local luminaries scheduled to participate are former New York City Ballet dancer and revered teacher Yvonne Mounsey, actress/singer Carol Lawrence, former Broadway dancer and local magazine maven Grover Dale, and an array of L.A. dancers, choreographers and teachers, including Kathleen Knapp, Dulce Capadocia, Linda Lack, Hae Kyung Lee, Lawrence Blake, Francisco Martinez, Stella Matsuda, Carla Luna, Don Redlich, Gema Sandoval, Anthony Shay and Medha Yodh. Finally, on the 23rd at the Ford, a global-flavored program offers Project 21/Maura Townsend, Sharanya Mukhopadhyay and Laria Saunders, Laura Everling, Parijat Desai, Hae Kyung Lee and Dancers, Katja Biesanz, Namah Ensemble, and JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble. Kaleidoscope remains an unparalleled opportunity to catch up with favorite groups and scope out the up-and-comers.
Cal State L.A., Luckman Fine Arts Complex, 5151 State University Dr.; Fri.-Sat., July 14-15, 8 p.m. Japan America Theater, 244 S. San Pedro St., dwntwn.; Sat., July 22, 8 p.m. John Anson Ford Theater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hlywd.; Sun., July 23, 7:30 p.m.; $48 for series; $18, $12 students & seniors. (323) 343-6683.
We also recommend: Rangoli Foundation at L.A. Theater Center, Sat., and at Madrid Theater, Sun.; Intercultural Performance Salon at UCLA Glorya Kaufman Hall (Dance Bldg.), Tues.
Jean Dubuffet thought that untrained artists, particularly the insane, produced art that was entirely true to their inner selves, the kind of "truth" professionals can only strive for. Dubuffet’s valorization of what he called "art brut" honored the passion of simple people making complex pictures. It returned a certain dignity to the institutionalized producers of elaborate, dizzying patterns and esoteric figural relations. And it had a profound effect on postwar art, injecting a dose of nitty-gritty into the art surrealism left in its wake. The sampling of artists whom Dubuffet himself collected in West Hollywood is not limited to the production of one group of inmates, like the Prinzhorn show at the Hammer, but spans Europe. Not all the Brutists on view were institutionalized; Anselme Boix-Vives, for one, happily churned out his vivid, crowded beasts and people at home in front of the TV. Whether deranged or simply rearranged, these Brutists turned out marvelous pictures, teeming with detail and populated with the liveliest and loveliest of monsters. Adolf Wölfli remains the mad master of the lot with his rhythmic arabesques and staggering amalgams of image, word and even musical notation. But Augustin Lesage’s jeweler’s-eye brocades, the looming personages of Madge Gill and Scottie Wilson, and the varied contributions of Philippe Dereux, Anna Zemankova, Martha Grunenwaldt, Aloise and Carlo all pull you in with their insistent vision, and don’t let you go. In this context, Dubuffet’s own work — including the rare suite of "Corps de Dames" prints — takes on both urgency and modesty.
If the human mind is so beautiful in its fragility, is the "mind" of the machine capable of art? In James Mahoney’s "Code," mind and machine work together in strange, captivating ways. Painter and programmer Mahoney conflates his vocations in an ever-changing projection (onto a screen hanging in the middle of the room), whose combinations of imagery evolve by way of a program that induces the computer to make ongoing choices according to his more-or-less subjective descriptions and associations. These are invisible; the computer’s decisions in response are all we see (or need to see). The combinations are manifold, although many images return like themes in a movie or piece of music. Indeed, their recurrence, and their pairing with other recurring motifs, often suggests narrative elements, witty or ominous. You’re not missing a real plot; the computer is free-associating, although always prompted by Mahoney’s parameters. But the element of surprise maintains throughout.
"L’Art Brut: Jean Dubuffet and the Outsiders" at Louis Stern Fine Arts, 9002 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. (310) 276-0147. James Michael Mahoney: "Code" at Patricia Correia Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., No. E-2, Santa Monica. (310) 264-1760. Both thru July 22.
Yes, they’re ducky (oh-so-likable), theatrical (pull-the-rug-out funny, complete with oddball costumes and props), and mysterious — the mystery being how, after some 25 years, these five guys manage to stay friends let alone have enough brain cells left to arrive at some of their wackier stops. Such as "A Midwestern Night’s Dream," and "Mr. Talljar’s Neighborhood" — "It’s Mr. Rogers after the apocalypse," explains Leon Martell, a friend, I admit, with a mischievous, hound-from-hell grin who, in the sketch, reprises one of his favorite characters, Lenny the Troll, a damaged guy who lives in the closet. And yep, ya kinda have to see or hear the stuff to understand DBMT’s particular web-footed humor. It may be their joint University of Iowa roots that informs their nutty mission — Martell claims they started out performing, mostly for their own fun, at Iowa City’s "one gay, black country-western bar," all of the outcasts ending up in one club. As a group they performed continuously through the 1980s, touring clubs and colleges and doing radio shows, TV and films. In the ’90s, they flew their separate ways — Merle "Ian Shoales" Kessler and Dan "Dr. Science" Coffey are perhaps the best known, plus Martell, Bill Allard and Jim "Randee of the Redwoods" Turner — until a job putting together a comedy Internet site for Warner Bros. got them back in touch a year ago. The site may never happen, but lucky for us this 25-year anniversary show will, with both brand-new funny business and some popular older material. At Arcadia, next to the Carousel, Santa Monica Pier; Thurs.-Fri., July 13-14, 8 p.m.; $15. (310) 260-4807.
In theater time, 365 days is practically an eternity. Few shows run longer than a year in either New York or London, fewer still in Los Angeles. So it is with great fanfare that the late-night comedy Crime Scene marks its second anniversary by moving out of its Saturday 11 p.m. slot for one of its rare prime-time performances. Created by Scott Rabinowitz and the late Danielle Surrette, Crime Scene’s serialized format consists of multiple simultaneous storylines. But what started out as a parody of the murder-mystery genre has evolved into something that targets just about every nook of pop culture. One recent storyline, "Kitchen Gods," spoofed Iron Chef–type cooking shows (the secret ingredient was matzo ball). Another crowd pleaser was "Becky," where Rebecca meets Carrie, and stiff Brit aristocrats mix it up during a send-up of Brian De Palma’s slow-mo prom-queen splatterfest. (The sound design incorporates a clip of Piper Laurie shrieking "They’re all going to laugh at you.") Even Dr. Seuss couldn’t escape from being spoofed by the Fools: "Who Killed Simon Thaddeus Mulberry Pew?" is a darkly funny parody of Seuss’ rhyming children’s stories. Unlike the first anniversary bash, which wrapped excerpts of previous shows around a new plot involving the oddly named Slasky Awards, this year’s show assembles popular characters from previous Crime Scene episodes in an entirely new plot, with a cast of 50 Sacred Fools (and friends) performing. Characters from "The Honeymurders," a parody of The Honeymooners, are expected, as is Jimmy Stewart (co-creator Rabinowitz) as George Bailey from "It’s a Wonderful Death." The performance even promises a "We Are the World"–type sequence starring the most obnoxious characters from the history of Crime Scene. Michael Rayner, a "new vaudevillian" known for balancing a wheelbarrow on his face while juggling, will open the show. Music will be provided by the Legendary Buck Silvertone, Nikki, Patty Lund and the Crime Scene Orchestra. Unable to attend, Sacred Fool David Sparrow sends his regrets —and a videotaped greeting with himself as President Clinton. But don’t you miss Slasky 2000. The next prime-time Crime Scene isn’t scheduled until Halloween. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd.; Sun., July 16, 8 p.m. (310) 281-8337.
What’s so inviting about 100-foot surf? Anybody with common sense would run like hell at the sight of Hawaii’s North Shore mega-waves, but not the "extreme surfers" profiled in this TLC documentary. Brian Keaulana, Jeff Clark, Mike Stewart, Mike Parsons and Ken Bradshaw are on a lifelong quest for the world’s most powerful waves, and you can watch them mount these bad boys at legendary spots like Jaws, Mavericks and Pipeline. For landlubbers without a clue, Buzzy Kerbox explains the history of surfing, including his own invention of tow-in surfing — motorboating out to enormous waves and riding them in. The History of the Bathing Suit, about the evolution of the swimsuit over the past century, precedes the program (at 8 & 11 p.m.), and immediately following (10 p.m. & 2 a.m.) is Surf, Sand and Sun: A History of the Beach, spotlighting the party scene in Miami’s South Beach, detailing the unusual founding of L.A.’s Venice Beach (the dream of Italy-obsessed cigarette millionaire Abbot Kinney) and visiting with the tourists at Hawaii’s Waikiki. On TLC, Sat., July 15, 9-10 p.m.; repeats mid.-1 a.m.
We also recommend: Sciography, a new monthly primer on science-fiction entertainment, on Sci-Fi Channel, Sun., July 16, 9 p.m.; Little Richard: The E! True Hollywood Story, "from pounding the pulpit and selling Bibles to illicit drugs and steamy sexcapades," on E!, Sun., July 16, 9-10 p.m.; Biography: Yvonne DeCarlo, the life and times of Lily Munster, on A&E, Tues., July 18, 8-9 p.m. & mid.-1 a.m.; Buena Vista Social Club, widescreen version of Wim Wenders’ portrait of elderly Cuban musicians, on KCET, Wed., July 19, 8-10 p.m.
Copyright © 2000, L.A. Weekly Media, Inc. All rights reserved.