WLN Woman to Woman Conference Inspires Growth

Suze Yalof Schwartz guided attendees to hug the person next to them and say, “you’re amazing!” Photo courtesy of Karina Pires.


By Elina D.

The 5th annual Woman to Woman Conference was held at the Skirball Cultural Center on Tuesday November 14, 2017. The Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), which is part of the organization JVS, hosts the event every year. It was a chance for women of all ages to come together, be inspired, and hear success stories from other women who have overcome many obstacles to get to where they are now. These women’s personal and professional journeys all tied back to this year’s theme Unstoppable: The Power of Women. All the proceeds from the event went to JVS’ programs serving women in different stages of career crisis or transition. This range includes veterans, at risk youth, women who are unemployed, have disabilities, or are considered working poor. The conference was a great success with more than 500 women in attendance.

The morning began with a networking breakfast. This was a chance for everyone in attendance to get to know each other, and make connections, before the conference officially started. The event host was Nikki Crawford, an award winning actress, singer, and dancer. She has a variety of theatre, television, and film credits, and can currently be seen on the show Criminal Minds. She introduced each speaker, and also led the question and answer portions after each.

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The Don and Bunk Show: Tough in Torrance December 9th

Bunk Gardner and Don Preston

The Don and Bunk Show is coming to the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library in Torrance on Saturday, December 9th at 2 pm. The trio consists of keyboardist Don Preston and saxophonist Bunk Gardner, both alumni of the Mothers of Invention, and drummer Chris Garcia. Sponsored by the Friends of the Torrance Public Library, admission to the concert is free.

Don Preston and Bunk Gardner’s musical association goes back to the late sixties when they performed alongside Frank Zappa as members of the original Mothers of Invention, and Preston’s forays into jazz has included notable partnerships with such artists as Alex Cline, Bobby Bradford, and the late John Carter. The band’s sets typically draw heavily, though not exclusively, from the Mothers’ songbook as well as Preston’s original jazz compositions.

The Don and Bunk Show perform at 2 pm, December 9th, at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library, 3301 Torrance Bl, Torrance, CA. 90503. (310)781-7599. FULL DISCLOSURE: the author booked this show for the library.

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Photo Essay: The 40th Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade

Queen Narayana (2014) at the 40th Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, All photos by Monique A. LeBleu for The LA Beat.

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Chasing Trane: Exploring a Jazz Giant at the GRAMMY Museum

A saxophone on display as part of the Chasing Trane exhibit at the Grammy Museum. (Photo by Christy Kane)

John Coltrane left this mortal plane fifty years ago, but the his spirit lives on in his music, which remains as influential and powerful as ever. The GRAMMY Museum explores the jazz giant’s life and work with it’s newest exhibit Chasing Trane: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey Transcended, running through September 2018. The show launched November 17th with a screening of the similarly titled documentary Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary and a Q&A with the film’s director, John Scheinfeld.

The exhibit uses video and artifacts to provide an interactive experience of Coltrane’s life and music. One video explains how “Chasin’ the Trane,” the song off which the exhibit and film base their names, came to be called that. Initially untitled when Coltrane started performing it, the title was suggested by the recording engineer who had to follow the saxophonist around the stage as he wandered around it during his solos. Other interesting pieces include original manuscripts, instruments, concert posters and a program from Coltrane’s funeral, which included performances by the groups of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman.

The greatest strength of the film Chasing Trane is the wall to wall music that plays throughout it, allowing Coltrane’s music to permeate throughout the entire hour and a half plus of film and to illuminate the narrative. Much of the power of Coltrane’s music comes from the way that he used it to explore his ideas in real time, and the movie really conveys that sense of Coltrane thinking out loud through his instrument. An eclectic group of interview subjects, including family members, contemporaries and admirers discuss their experience of Coltrane, his music and his spiritual journey. Coltrane’s own thoughts, taken from interviews and liner notes, are voiced by Denzel Washington.

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From “Hot Lips” to Animal Humanitarian; Loretta Swit Unveils Latest Book on Birthday and 45-Year M.A.S.H. Anniversary!

Photo Courtesy of Bill Dow Photography

On Sunday November 5th, a most legendary book signing, exhibit unveiling, and birthday celebration was in full swing at the opulent Max Factor building-turned-Hollywood museum.  Yes, while you were all cursing the rush hour traffic only to remember it was merely a “Sunday night, so what the hell?!?”, channel surfing only to stumble across America’s Funniest Home Videos to mutterings of “Wait, what. This show’s still on the air? Oh my God, what happened to Bog Saget?!?”, then subsequently flipping over to an old M.A.S.H. rerun to much true and comedic relief: one of M.A.S.H.’s own was unveiling her latest book and career driven memorabilia to impending birthday surprise in the lobby of the marble-floored landmark wherein any Hollywood blonde worth her never-to-be salt and pepper hair adopted her signature look to the tune of Marilyn Magnificence and Jean Harlow allure! Noted Hollywood blonde in tow, Loretta Swit, just happened to follow in said footsteps, not so much in relation to finding that signature look, but by posting her signature in all her books! All this in the blonde room itself, just off the northeast corner of the majestic lobby.

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Tropicalia Music & Taco Festival: Live Review and Photo Gallery

Os Mutantes rocks Tropicalia. All photos by Elise Thompson for the LA Beat.

Having attended multiple events at the Queen Mary in years past, including a great staging of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2003, and multiple versions of the Ink And Iron Festival, I thought I knew what we would be in for at Tropicalia Music and Taco Festival. It’s a big, accommodating space, after all. But Tropicalia, a first-time festival from the Observatory Group, roughly tripled the attendance of all of those prior events. Although I’m not that comfortable at giant events these days, the opportunity to see Os Mutantes, a pet favorite of mine from Sao Paulo, Brazil who almost never play in the US these days, plus a diverse lineup of acts, and dozens of taco vendors, including some long-time favorites, was too much to pass up.

By making the most of its available space, it managed to be both massive and intimate. While the giant mainstage crowd hopping to Café Tacuba, Kali Uchis and Chicano Batman created the feeling of a big concert, access to the smaller stage acts was up-close and personal. Yes there were long lines at the better taco pads, but once you got there the food was worth waiting for, and reasonably priced for such an event. It helped that they had a lot of taco pads.

We made it through the doors just as the sun was setting. The fest was in full swing with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson on the Modelo stage. Jackson appeared to be struggling with technical difficulties, but looked marvelous and clearly still has that unmistakable voice and a fire in her that makes her a timeless performer. She did a short set including “Funnel of Love.” Near the end, her grand-daughter was encouraging her to finish her set, but she made sure to play a truncated version of “Hard-Headed Woman,” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Continue reading

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Pot Party! Where To Find Legal Cannabis Events in LA Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Photo by Tanjila Ahmed via Flickr Creative Commons.

Saturday, November 18 – Virtual Reality Elevated. The good people at GRASSFED and Art Of Edibles, Dan and Tomer, bring their vape and edibles bar back to Downtown LA, this time with a VR experience by Last Call Games. They promise an experience suited for anyone, from avid gamers, to those who have never use VR before. Even those avid gamers would be overwhelmed with the luxury of choosing between Bloomfield flower at the vape bar, or a smorgasbord of edible treats from To Whom It May, Moonman’s Mistress, chef Akana Westing, and Fully Baked. 

LA Beat readers get 20% off by using the discount code: LABEAT20 when ordering advance tickets at Eventbrite.

New Years Eve, Sunday December 31 – The End Of Prohibition NYE Soiree. For those looking to celebrate the brave new world of retail recreational weed by having a twenties-themed ball in a classy joint, this event, which benefits Rise Together in its efforts to save family famers devastated by the recent wildfires in the Santa Rose area, should be just the ticket. Get your tickets, in advance, on the event website.

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Movies Till Dawn: Continental Cowboys and Italian Vikings

“Death Rides a Horse” (1967, Kino) Gritty Italian western employs two of the genre’s most enduring tropes – “revenge for a murdered family” and “the student becomes the master” – and taps Lee Van Cleef, star of some of the most popular examples of each (“For a Few Dollars More” and “Day of Anger“) for its lead. Here, Van Cleef is a gunfighter, newly freed from prison, who teams with John Philip Law to track down the bandits who sent him to prison and slaughtered Law’s family. If the story travels a familiar track, the execution benefits from a wealth of positives in front of and behind the camera, including the steely presence of Van Cleef, scripting by Luciano Vincenzoni (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”) that showcases his talent for brawny dialogue and setpieces, an unnerving score by Ennio Morricone (which is quoted in “Kill Bill”) and the capable hand of director Giulio Petroni, who makes excellent use of the Techniscope process in wide vistas and tight, tense closeups. A solid entry in the sprawling Western alla’Italiana universe; Kino’s Blu-ray includes insightful commentary from director Alex Cox (“Repo Man”), and trailers for several of Kino’s Eurowestern titles, including “Return of Sabata,” also with Van Cleef.

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Manhattan Transfer Songstress and Founder Erin Dickins has us-S-up for Her Singing: Upstairs at Vitello’s to Commemorate New Album!

Imagine if you will a halcyon Sunday afternoon in early November. Then take that late fall journey down memory lane, swinging a sudden detour across a street of the same name, hopping progressively on over to International Alley; Sprinkle it with more than a touch of musical mirth and maudlin undertones and you’ve got former Manhattan Transfer Songstress Erin Dickins’ Sunday Afternoon Jazz Brunch!  In a fit of most decided musical fervor, Dickins cops any and all Manhattan-style intrigue, evincing a slight diversion down a cobblestoned French alleyway, amidst a lulling turn down Jobim Circle all within the cozy confines above L.A.’s most famous–and infamous–dinning establishment alike: Vitello’s; all this on the heels, and in celebration, of her most recent solo album release: Erin Dickins Vignettes.

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Weed Review: Bloomfield’s Fall Flower Harvest

Bloomfield, of Grass Valley, CA is the kind of company it’s easy to love if you are an old health food store kind of guy like me. Their product comes via a woman-owned collective of small farmers, growing organic craft buds outdoors in Northern California – what’s not to support? When I caught their owner on the phone to inquire about this piece, she was, unbeknownst to me, right in the middle of harvest, reaping away in the fields while telling me about her passion for the work. This was awesome, I thought, and, on a calmer day, made arrangements to meet up while they were visiting LA.

Grass from Bloomfield tends to come in proprietary strains that are not grown by anyone else. The ones I sampled included Khaleesi’s Dragon (a sativa-dominant hybrid, one of multiple types of weed named for the Game of Thrones diva), Sour Pina (sativa-dominant hybrid), Pineapple Chem Dawg (hybrid) and Jager (indica-dominant hybrid).

I started out with the Black Lime Special Reserve, figuring, I should be grateful that the owners have generously shared some of their personal stash with me, even though my brain logically understands it’s not literally their own special reserve, they just call it that and sell it along with every other strain. But you have to start somewhere, and this one says it’s the owner’s private reserve – pick of the litter. Continue reading

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