The Get Down Goes Down

“In some ways, Empire is where The Get Down leads to— a corporate culture of rap music. Where The Get Down was about the rise of Rap Music, Empire is the capitalistic result.”

I was hooked. When “Books” Ezekiel Figuero read a poem with his emotionally-charged voice, it was poetry, rap and suddenly, I started to understand something about a culture that had evaded me. With the final episode now aired, we can speak to the merits and trials of this great experiment in television.
It was flawed, to be sure: A lot of storylines, a very weak gay tangent that was never realized, too much production, cartooning and cliches all spun on the head of a needle that could never decide where it wanted to go, but the ride was energetic, thrilling and if you were there, essentially the truth.
The last episode “Only From Exile Can We Come Home” was all the series wrapped into one big conclusion. but with such a delightful silliness ( imagine MX Justin Vivian Bond meets Jobriath tryout meets pop impresario, Robert Stigwood, at the Chelsea Hotel, of course!) that the show should conclude with one over-the-top last community rap, potential demise of our beloved little gay character, the bad guys turning good, it was all simply as Bette Davis once said: too much.
And it will be missed.
There are odd parallels to the other TV series, Empire, which in its third season has managed to stay afloat despite its deflated and contrived storylines — and a cast that feels exhausted. In some ways, Empire is where The Get Down leads to— a corporate culture of rap music. Where The Get Down was about the rise of Rap Music, Empire is the capitalistic result.
Empire lives while the Get Down, the most expensive Netflix series, $120 million to produce, goes to the place where great TV shows fade away.

Modern Art

Modern Art

ART IN LOS ANGELES:

PAST PERFECT OF LAZLO MOHOLY-NAGY

By Jeffrey Head

Los Angeles based Art + Design writer, Jeffrey Head reviews the groundbreaking Lazlo Maholy-Nagy show closing this month at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show is a sumptuous and comprehensive collection of the Bauhaus master’s experimental modernist photography, paintings and kinetic sculpture. At LACMA thru June 18.

 

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is the first comprehensive exhibition in Los Angeles for artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The exhibition travelled from the Guggenheim Museum in New York and The Art Institute of Chicago, before making its most recent and last stop at LACMA. Described as the first major retrospective of Moholy’s career in almost 50 years; it also serves as a dynamic survey of key developments in 20th century modern art by one person whose work represented the era in which he created. He also generated an aesthetic which remains essential, influential and contemporary.

During the brief and prodigious span of his career from the 1920s to the 1940s, Moholy created a sense of depth, movement and tension in every medium. From painting, sculpture, photography and film, to typography, publishing and advertising.

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G. Smirg, 1923. Watercolor and collage on sandpaper. © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy.

Moholy worked with a variety of materials in new ways applying innovative techniques. He was among the first artists to use Plexiglas, then a relatively new commercial material. Several of his specially formed and painted Plexiglas mobiles hang in the exhibition. He also combined materials in uncommon ways, including oil painting on burlap or watercolor on sandpaper.

Moholy’s photograms, which he created throughout his career, are also exhibited and may represent the best known aspects of his photographic work. These pieces remain intriguing images of light and shadow.

The exhibition also features the largest collection of his photomontage work. Mostly completed in the 1920s, Moholy assembled and edited otherwise unrelated images to create a narrative, taking into account scale and proportion. Moholy’s photograms, which he created throughout his career, are also exhibited and may represent the best known aspects of his photographic work. These pieces remain intriguing images of light and shadow.

Space Modulator CH for R1, 1942. Oil and incised lines on Formica. © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy.

 

Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Moholy’s daughter, recently visited the Los Angeles version of the exhibition at LACMA. In addition to his art, she anticipates her father’s film work and stage designs may find a larger audience here. Several of Moholy’s short films from Hattula’s own collection play within the exhibition: “Berlin Still Life” (1936), “Metropolitan Gypsies” (1932), “Impressions of the Old Marseille Harbor” (1929/31), and “London Zoo” (1936). The latter led filmmaker and fellow Hungarian, Alexander Korda to hire Moholy for special effects in his film “The Shape of Things to Come” based on the H.G. Wells story. Moholy’s work, however, was cut from the final version. There are also photographs of Moholy’s stage designs for Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman (1929), and Madam Butterfly (1931). Even from photographs, it is possible to get a sense of Moholy’s kinetic props and lighting. These could be viewed as a pragmatic and creative extension of his Plexiglas sculptures, also in the exhibition. It is easy to speculate how Moholy might have further influenced film and the performing arts had he not died of Leukemia at the age of 51

His professional career was based in Chicago where he served as the director of the New Bauhaus, and founded the School of Design (now The Institute of Design). For Hattula, “the work from the Chicago period are among my favorites mainly because I remember them hanging in our apartment and my father created some of them at home.” Space Modulator CH for R1, 1942 is one such piece, among several from her personal collection in the exhibition.

Although a much earlier work, Photogram Mondgesicht (Moonface) or Self-Portrait in Profile, 1926, is also from Hattula’s collection she explains, “I have come to a better understanding of the social values my father was expressing in his art. Children are very literal-minded, so I had to grow into an appreciation of what my father was doing. Growing up my father’s art has also inclined me towards bright, cheerful, and tidy art of all periods, figurative as well as abstract.”

Of the nearly 300 works in the exhibition, the most distinct is perhaps Moholy’s 1946 design of the Parker 51 pen with a chrome desk set. Six buttress-like forms provide rhythm and balance with a single fountain pen positioned at the end. As with Moholy’s three-dimensional artworks, the desk set is dramatic looking for its play of light and shadow. This object is special, because it is the only functional, applied art piece and everyday object in the exhibition. It also represents Bauhaus ideals of integrating art and industry along with the machine aesthetic. Developed while he served as artistic advisor to Parker during the 1940s, Moholy received a patent for the design which incorporated a magnet ball and socket enabling the pen to pivot in all directions. Although the desk set did not go into production, Parker incorporated Moholy’s magnetic component in hundreds of desk sets for more than 25 years.

The desk set was not known to exist after its initial appearance. Then, in 2013 it was found. Hattula commented on how she believes there is still academic research and discoveries to be made about the lesser known aspects of her father’s career.

This exhibition is an opportunity to enjoy Moholy’s significant and wide-ranging contributions to modernism.

“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” is on view at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through June 18, 2017

From: medium.com

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Wedding Bush Road – by David Francis

Wedding Bush Road – by David Francis

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619027879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619027879
  • Price: $25.00

 

Author, David Francis has an interesting, full life. He grew up on a rural farm in Australia surrounded by horses, performed in competitive showjumping in his early twenties and represented Australia in an equestrian team that competed in Europe, then landed up in Los Angeles pursuing a career as a lawyer. And all the while writing novels. His first book, The Great Inland Sea, was published in seven languages, while his second book, Stray Dog Winter, won Book of the Year in The Advocate, The Barbara Gittings Prize for Literature, and was a LAMBDA Literary Award Finalist. David’s short fiction has appeared in Best Australian StoriesMeanjinGriffith ReviewSouthern California ReviewThe Sydney Morning HeraldThe Rattling WallLos Angeles Times and Harvard Review. And last, but not least, Francis is currently the Vice President of PEN Center USA.

His latest novel, Wedding Bush Road revisits the past, journeying back to the unfinished and the uncomfortable, mixed with that affectionate longing we have for all things “childhood”. The protagonist, Daniel Rawson, embraces his Australian roots while another part of him flat out rejects them. Returning to the horse farm on Wedding Bush Road where he spent his childhood, Daniel must deal with his aging mother’s health, his philandering father’s banishment from the main house, and a rundown farm that has been invaded by a crazy woman and her feral son. Wedding Bush Road explores the theme of opposites – past versus future, tame versus wild, obligation versus freedom, a “picture perfect” fiancé versus a wild woman squatting on the farmland. We see Daniel torn between his idyllic life of lattes and yoga in Laurel Canyon, LA, and that of the dry, dusty, wasteland where “the light is so harsh it eats everything up”.

David Francis writes with a poetic flair, creating nuances that suck you into the moment. He shapes entertaining, unusual descriptions as in: “face like a twisted sandwich” or “the prime minister with marsupial eyes”. And he hits with moments of truth, like when Sheran asks her son “why are you always mean to me?” and the son replies, “’cos you’re the mother you have when you don’t have a mother.”

SoCal Magazine caught up with David Francis for an interview, and accolades and praise aside, David is grounded, easy going, and thoroughly engaging.

How long did it take to write Wedding Bush Road?

It started as a short story that was published in the Harvard Review and Australian stories. I thought it was done; home and hosed (a horse term), but then I heard Reggie’s voice and revisited the story. So five years all told, with roughly five drafts.

Were there a lot of rewrites?

My editor at Counterpoint, Dan Smetanka, had minor changes and one big one. He put it out there tentatively wondering if I’d freak out. Basically he wanted me to change the last 3rd of the novel. It used to be that the girlfriend, Isabelle, arrives in Australia and hijacks the novel. Dan wanted the focus to remain on the main character, Daniel. In hindsight, it seems right. I wrote 8-9 hours a day dealing with that change, for 3 weeks, and it worked. Dan was delighted.

Is it hard to jump from lawyer brain to author brain?

Actually, I can quite readily. I thought being a lawyer would preclude me from creative writing – but now feel as though the lawyer part of my brain creates a subconscious order which allows me to write organically and still have structure. I write from the body/heart, capturing the sensual – like a vivid dream. I get the conscious, ego mind out the way, and work from my “not thinking” mind.

I like having the structure my job provides, plus I sometimes write from the office which makes me aware that I don’t have time to phutz around. I value the free time, and my mind prepares for a writing session at a subconscious level. So yes, my day job is less of an inhibitor than I thought it would be.

I also write in my attic at home, and sometimes in the cemetery at the graveside of a Rumanian woman called Polexinia. I sort of adopted her. An elderly gent came up one day and thought I was Polexinia’s son, and that I was writing a letter to her. Even through the language barrier, it was a beautiful thing.

What kind of law do you practice?

Mostly public finance; helping organizations that the government doesn’t fund anymore. I started as a lawyer in Australia with a stuffy firm and I hated it. Then I was chosen to perform in competitive showjumping and thought I’d never be lawyer again. However, I met someone at a firm in Melbourne, and when they moved to LA, they brought me out to visit – I got a job and never left.

Was it tricky writing in the present tense?

I like the first person present tense, which is literary suicide – and there are various points of I told in the present tense, which is double suicide. I love writing in the first person – and don’t worry that it may not provide enough scope. I believe the accumulative style of first person narrative is omniscient.

Is the name “Rawson” on purpose?

Actually it’s my father’s middle name.

What is the difference in audience reaction from US to Australia?

Australians are a little hurt by the way their country is depicted, but country life in Australia is hard. Wedding Bush Road explores that harshness and lack of sophistication by contrasting it to Los Angeles life. I think of Los Angeles as softer. Australia somehow hardens me – I even looked older at my book launch in Aus.

Is it too soon to ask about your next book idea?

I’m already 149 pages in. This story is set in California and is about someone who, to gain some currency in LA, pretends to be Australian but is really from a desperate chicken farm in Ventura. The story is quite different in tone – light and biting, but there is a point where things turn on him and he has a come to Jesus moment. It’s based on a couple of short stories: Moses of the Freeway, published in Australian Love Stories and, part of El Curandero, published in the PEN Center USA-affiliated literary journal The Rattling Wall.

Anything you’d like to add?

I’m heading to Sydney for the Writer’s Festival, and to be on a national radio show. Plus, I’m going to lecture on my experience of the LA riots – how I went to a political rally in a church and landed up singing lead tenor in the oldest black gospel choir in LA – I was the only white boy (laughs). We performed as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music at the Hollywood Bowl, with the Dalai Lama on stage.

 

 

 

 

Come Rain or Wine

Come Rain or Wine

The pour was as heavy as the rain at Silverlake Wine store’s “Sunday at Three” wine tasting hosted by Randy Clement and his band of merry sommeliers. Who wouldn’t want three charming white wines and two reds to go along with a Sunday afternoon? And if that wasn’t enticing enough—just try to refuse the resplendent hors d’oeuvres by Annie Miler’s Clementine in Beverly Hills. A glistening penne pasta salad speckled with olives and parmesan arrives as the legs of your J Brix “Rougarou” wine from San Diego drips seductively before you. As you take your first bite, Randy embarks on outlandish wine tangents and general chat about all things related to each eclectic wine—selected by type, in this case California Rhone, for the afternoon. For example, did you know you can remember a wine by the varietal nostalgia it evokes? Say your first sip reminds you of your Grandfather’s Garage—the intoxicating mix of turpentine and soil? That is your personal vinology—your landmark in the world of wine to mark your interpretation of “bouquet” and “full body.” If a good wine evokes a time and place, a great wine brings people together. A Sunday Funday awaits you, rain or shine.

A great place for wine tasting and meeting new friends. Plus there is another branch in the Arts District (213) 335-6235

 

  • Reservations are required for Sunday Wine Tastings and there is a set start and end time.
  • Reservations can be made either by emailing info@silverlakewine.com or by calling 323 662 9024.
  • All bottles from tastings are available at a discount.
  • Date: One Sunday a month
  • Time: 3PM
  • Location: Silverlake Wine
  • Price: $25 per person
  • http://www.silverlakewine.com

 

Pan African Film & Arts Festival Celebrates 25th Anniversary in Los Angeles

Pan African Film & Arts Festival Celebrates 25th Anniversary in Los Angeles

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year in Los Angeles at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills Crenshaw 15 Theatre.  This year’s monumental event will showcase a total of 202 films comprising of both feature-length and short firms.  PAFF is known to screen the largest selection of Black films among any other film festival in the World.

“It’s been an incredible experience to witness the growth of this PAFF and at the same time witness the tremendous development of the Pan African film Industry,” says Ayuko Babu, PAFF Executive Director. “Both have allowed me the pleasure of working with thousands of filmmakers and honoring the artistry from South Africa to Atlanta – all of whom tell their own stories and present their images to the world; so beautifully. So now in our 25th year, PAFF will again present the largest selection of Black films ever to be screened at one event and honor the best storytellers and artists for their work.”

This year’s festival is also packed with special events including the “Conversations With…” series featuring Sanaa Lathan, Mara Brock with Salim Akil, and a special edition of the series will honor actress, Alfre Woodard, with the The Lifetime Achievement Award during the Opening Night Gala.

“I get excited every year right about this time because I know the Pan African Film Festival is coming. This means that I have felt this exhilaration 25 times!,” says honorary Alfre Woodard.  “PAFF always delivers artfully curated entertainment and information in diverse genres. This year I’m particularly thrilled that they have invited me to represent their legacy of bringing engaging stories from filmmakers of the African diaspora to Los Angeles, the birthplace of American Cinema. As always, Feb 9-20th promises stimulating conversations and lively celebrations; you won’t want to miss it!”

 

For a complete list of events, screenings, and panels, and to reserve tickets, please visit www.PAFF.org Ph: 310. 337-4737 ~ Fax: 310. 337-4736

Bryan Cranston – A Life in Parts

Bryan Cranston – A Life in Parts

live talks LA

Bryan CranstonInterviewed by Jay Roach about his recently released memoir, A Life in Parts, (for Live Talks LA), Bryan Cranston was hilarious and incredibly likable. I mean, incredibly likable. Everybody loves this man. He received a standing ovation coming onto the stage and immediately quipped “well, I’ll just go home now then.” When asked which famous people, dead or alive, he’d like to meet, Cranston answered “John Lennon, Marlon Brando, Jesus and Kim Jong-il” – adding “come on, aren’t you curious?” Regaling the audience with stories from his memoir, Cranston’s self deprecating humor and infectious energy had the delighted audience eating out of the palm of his very “lively” hand.

Bryan Cranston

Clowning about at Live Talks LA

Cranston’s memoir, A Life in Parts, is aptly named since it delves into all the roles that Cranston has played in real life…and on film. The memoir offers a window into Cranston’s life, showing us how he crafts his performances from these various roles – ranging from farmhand to hypnotist; from stalked lover, to murder suspect, to abandoned son. We travel with Cranston as he experiences epiphanies, moments of realization and visits dark places within himself. Told with plenty humor, Cranston’s memoir is a surprising read. Then again, how could we expect anything less from the man that breathed live into the complex and multifaceted Walter White.

And a special shout out to Live Talks LA for another stimulating and enjoyable show.

All photos courtesy of Live Talks LA

Bryan Cranston

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