watt’s picture of the week – wednesday, july 1, 2015

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arm_zapoteco_in_san_pedro_150630b

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I was paddling my kayak early yesterday morning in the outer harbor part of the port of los angeles (part of my pedro town) and what do I see there parked up at berth fortysix? it’s gray like a navy boat… I get closer I find out it’s mexican navy, the multipurpose ship arm “zapoteco” (amp02) and damn if it ain’t here for the third day of a three day visit, crimony! when I make land and get to my pad and my ‘puter, I find that out via the internet that in fact they’re giving free tours, righteous! I rush down and get a couple more shots. this boat’s been used for cadet-training and as a hospital ship, helping out w/natural disasters that have hit in indonesia, haiti, el salvador and peru. much respect to the marinaros on board!

photos by mike watt

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Johnny Reb’s ‘Shell Out for Charity’ Has the Humble Peanut Raising Money for Charities

Johnny Rebs EXT banner. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

Johnny Rebs EXT banner. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

As many of you know, I LOVE barbeque and food I’ve had in the South in general. Normally, I like to do restaurant reviews of some pretty incredible eats. However, at this point, it is a given that the food at Johnny Reb’s True South is great, with excellent BBQ and the best fried catfish this side of Jolene’s Fish House in Hartwell, GA. So the focus then will be on something small, but important; the peanut.

What is so special about the peanut, you ask? Cheryl Carter, owner of Johnny Reb’s three locations in Long Beach (the original, since 1984), Bellflower and Orange, spoke with me about what the humble peanut has accomplished.

Q: Cheryl, what is Shell Out for Charity?

For all the years that we have been in business, we’ve put a bucket of peanuts on the table. Around the year 2000, when we were going through an economically tough time, we were looking for ways to cut costs and we thought about cutting the peanuts off the table. My husband said, ‘Let’s turn that around. Let’s put a jar next to it and sponsor a local charity and we’ll raise money for other people with our peanuts. That’s what we’ve been doing ever since, we’ve raised over $500,000.00 in pocket change for local charities.

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Queer Rockin’ Rules! OK!

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Last Friday I was able to visit the Queer Rock Camp Southern California that took place at the Temple Israel in Long Beach, the first rock camp of its kind in the Los Angeles area…actually, only one other camp specifically for queer youth is known to exist and that is in Olympia, WA. The Queer Rock Camp Southern California was founded and co-organized by Jenny Caronna who recruited a group of community volunteers (musicians and non-musicians) to create a safe space for queer youth (ages 13-19) so that they could learn to play rock ‘n roll, gain confidence and feel empowered via music with other like-minded youth.

In this summer’s camp, 16 queer-identified “campers” participated in the week-long program. The Queer Rock Camp Southern California was funded via an Indiegogo.com fundraising campaign (over 100 donors!), business sponsors and philanthropists.

Along with rock band instruction, the camp offered a diverse curriculum of workshops with topics addressing a wide range of queer music culture topics and survival skills.

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Album Review: Jessica Lee Wilkes’s “Lone Wolf” EP

Jessica Lee Wilkes is a singer/songwriter and bassist from Paducah, KY who plays “raw, rhythm & blues-tinged rock & roll from a bygone era yet to come”, according to her website. Well-known as the upright bassist and co-vocalist for JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers, Wilkes’s fans include Wanda Jackson, JD McPherson, and even Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. Her new EP Lone Wolf which is out on Free Dirt Records features Jason Smay on drums (JD McPherson), Eddie Angel on guitar (Los Straitjackets), and Kellie Everett on saxophone (The Hooten Hallers). These six songs are a short blast of fun ’50s rock n’ roll, which leave behind the blues and rockabilly grit of The Dirt Daubers, but keep plenty of energy and swagger.

lonewolfAt first listen, Wilkes sounds like a harder rockin’ Amy Winehouse, with her gum-snapping alto vocals, especially on the delightfully retro “Love Like Crazy” which sounds like it’s blasting out of an old jukebox. She has more snarl than Winehouse for sure though; the title track, “Lone Wolf”, is darker and slinky with shimmering guitar, while  “Groove’s Too Shallow” is a funky toe-tapper with a fittingly circular groove and pointed lyrics like “When that record’s scratched, I know it’s never gonna last” and “You’re a 45, I’m a 33″.

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Movie Review: “Seoul Searching” at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival

Seoul Searching

There is no doubt that John Hughes had a great impact on American culture in the 80’s and 90’s as he cleverly tapped into the zeitgeist and sensibilities of the era with movies such as: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Home Alone. Benson Lee, a Korean film maker whose work has aired HBO, MTV, the Sundance Channel has produced and directed his own film “Seoul Searching”, that is inspired John Hughes approach to movie making: but with a desire to bring it home, using Korean actors and setting it within the 80’s in Korea to considerably good effect with a premise that is humorous, insightful and engaging.

The story revolves around a true story. The Korean government had a plan in the late 80’s to reacquaint the Korean diaspora from around the world to the Korean homeland and Korean traditions. After a few years of the Korean government taking in these youth for these summer camps came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth it. These camps had lots of problems with these youth. The unexpected tumultuous results of the camps had the Korean government abandoned them because they failed to indoctrinate these youths with Korean values. Benson’s story takes off from there with a vivid and quirky interpretation of those events using a lots of Hughes situational concepts and archetypes to tell this hilarious story.

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Breaking News: Rolling Stones Release Fonda Theater Show Recording on iTunes

Stick Fingers - Live

This morning, without any fanfare, The Rolling Stones released the recording made when they played here May 20th at The Fonda Theater in Hollywood.  Rolling Stones’ fans were calling this club date the “gig to end all club gigs” at the time, and for those who want to find out if this is really true, the “Sticky Fingers” set is presented in its entirety.  This was a very exclusive show, with only a lucky few getting inside to witness it.  Attended by Bruce Willis, Jack Nicholson, a handful of lucky fans and myself, this was a very special show even amongst the short list of club gigs the band has played.  This was the only time the band has ever played an entire album.  Does the show live up to the hype?  You be the judge. Available for download on iTunes at www.itunes.com

Fonda Theater 5/20/2015 - Photograph: Ivor Levene

Fonda Theater 5/20/2015 – Photograph: Ivor Levene

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17th Annual Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Inductees Come From All Areas of Sports

Softball Inductee Dani Yudin with Sportscaster Randy Rosenbloom

Softball Inductee Dani Yudin with Sportscaster Randy Rosenbloom

Sunday’s Jewish Sports Hall of Fame 17th Annual Induction at the American Jewish University yielded some familiar names and some not quite as familiar but equally as talented. The event, with Master of Ceremonies and Los Angeles Emmy-winning sports legend Roy Firestone presented 14 inductees to the Hall of Fame, along with Pillar of Achievement honoree Howard Zuckerman, who produced sports events for Southern California on ABC, NBC and CBS television. He is also notable for starting many prominent sportscaster’s careers as well as producing Clippers and Golden State Warriors games and Big-10 games. He also handled the producing end of the Live Aid music telethon and concert.

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Vanguards of History: The KMPC Transmitter

KMPC Transmitter circa 2002 - Photograph: Ivor Levene

KMPC Transmitter circa 2002 – Photograph: Ivor Levene

Does a building have a soul? Or is a building simply a collection of walls and floor designed to house a collection of people and nondescript cubicles? Is it function over form? Perhaps…but if you look at the designs of yesteryear, there is something more there than just a structure. In a bygone era, architects put something more into their designs; they put their hopes for the future and their expression of the times into their designs. Buildings were as much an expression of who we were as a people, as they were a container to hold us. In that sense, buildings had soul.

In many cases, they continue to stand amongst us, bearing silent witness to the passing of time and in some cases suffering the silent ignominy of having been converted into the latest frozen yogurt stop, or another cellphone store. Better that than falling to the wrecker’s ball though!

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Movie Review: “Chuck Norris vs Communism” at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival

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“Chuck Norris vs Communism” is the case of an irresistible title meeting a compelling story. This documentary explores the influence of Western movies had on Romanian cultural underground during the communist reign of Nicolae Ceaușescu that helped precipitate the downfall of communism. Irina Nistor’s translator on the National Television’s Censorship Committee became the voice of freedom to Romania as her “Colonel” Zamfir collaborated on 3,000 smuggled films distributed in Bucharest that eventually spread throughout Romania. The intrigue and tension of the story circles around the tight rope of this clandestine operation during one of the most oppressive regimes of Communist Eastern Europe.

Nistor’s voice dubbed both male and female roles in features like Dirty Dancing, Rambo and Last Tango in Paris. Nistor’s voice became closely identified with all these films, where her intonation and mannerisms over the original dialog. When others attempted to voice overs in movies it was perceived by most Romanians as frauds, imposters and poor imitators of her fine work. Details seen in these movies, like fashion, quantity and quality of the food were elements of constant fascination among Romanian audiences. Peppered through the reenactments of Zamfir and Nistor’s traitorous activities were interview segments, where her audience would recount their impression in talking head style of the movies they had seen, Nistor’s voice-over style and the careful gatherings of friends and families to watch these Western Imperialist movies.

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Bluespower Rocks the Dana Point Food, Wine and Music Festival

Bluespower on stage MCU..   Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

Bluespower rocked the Dana Point Food, Wine and Music Festival Saturday. A large crowd, enjoying tastes of wine from many different wineries as well as food as diverse as lobster, oysters, Persian cuisine, barbeque and German chocolates enjoyed the event. Bluespower really got the crowd dancing with covers such as Hendrix’s Stone Free, which featured guitarist Kenny Williams playing his guitar behind his head; and a soulful, excellent version of the Temptations’ Just my Imagination. The band’s original songs that blended funk, blues, rock and soul were also big hits with the audience. Overall, it was a good day for everyone; as a bonus, it was also a short walk to the beach from the event site.

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