The Bat Signal Shines on City Hall in Honor of Adam West

Batsignal DTLA (Photo by Tom Underhill)

A huge crowd assembled last night to honor the late Adam West, who passed away June 9th at the age of 88. West portrayed Batman on ABC from 1966 to 1968, as well as in a feature-length film version released in 1966. West and his side-kick Burt Ward (Robin) also appeared in character on a number of public service announcements.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck lit the Bat-Signal to cheers and applause from the audience. West’s family and former co-stars Burt Ward and Lee Meriwether were also in attendance, as was the Batmobile.

West’s family is encouraging people to donate to the Adam West Memorial Fund for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Photos by Tom Underhill of Tom Underhill Photos, Andrew Bell of Andrew Bell Photography, and Mike Guerena. Used with permission.

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Alison Arngrim to Host First “Indomitable Spirit” Panel, Featuring Special Guests Reverend Steve Pieters and Jody Vaclav

Photo Courtesy of BHBPR

Ever wonder after the meaning of the word “Indomitable”? Ever muse as to whether or not you are, or could become such a superlative? Well on Saturday, June 24th, you may just have the opportunity to divine the answer to said above inquiry as Alison Arngrim hosts Indomitable Spirit, a first of its kind meeting and panel discussion exploring the ever-resilient and tenacious character of the human soul and psyche!

Featuring talks by Reverend Steve Pieters and Jody Vaclav, this moving and contemplative afternoon is sure to stir, inspire, and cause great rumination!

An AIDS survivor, Reverend Steve Pieters has turned his diagnosis around several times over into an upward spiral of opportunity and accomplishment! Having tested positive back in the 1980s, Pieters was informed he only had months to live. Pieters, however, is not only still merely existing—HE’S ALIVE!!!—And still dancing!  Since the defeated months’ assured diagnosis, Pieters has served on the Boards of directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles, the AIDS Interfaith Council of Southern California, the AIDS National Interfaith Network (USA), and the first Los Angeles City/County AIDS Task Force. He was also Field Director to the AIDS Ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches from 1987 to 1997. In light of all his experiences and accomplishments, along with a desire for educating the community (both gay and straight) regarding the AIDS virus, Reverend Pieters has penned a succession of articles for Journey Magazine. These, along with other writings, have been amassed and converted into a collection all their own via the likes of Reverend Pieters’ original book: I’m Still Dancing!

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Movies Till Dawn: Spotlight on Film Detective (Polyester Pantsuit Edition)

Joe Bullet” (1972) Ken Gampu (“The Gods Must Be Crazy”) plays Joe Bullet – a less-tormented, South African version of Ray Donovan – who is called upon by a football team to root out the gangsters that have threatened to undo their shot at the championship. Hat-tip to American black action films of the period has a capable lead in Gampu, a commanding presence in Western pics like “The Naked Prey,” but technical issues and sluggish pacing will make it a challenge for all but the most ardent action/cult/obscura devotees. The most interesting thing about the pic is its history: made by two white South African filmmakers – director Louis de Witt and prolific writer/producer Tonie van der Merwe –”Joe Bullet” played for two days before the apartheid government imposed a four-decade-long ban which, as noted in the commentary track by van Merwe and Benjamin Cowley (whose company, Gravel Road, handled the restoration),was due largely to its depiction of a strong, appealing black hero. Film Chest’s full-frame DVD also includes the original trailer.

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LA Food Fest had Something for Everyone

Afters’ cereal ice cream (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

Last Saturday’s LA Food Fest offered an entire hour and a half of exclusive VIP time before general admission. This time allowed us to leisurely enjoy the the event, which was blessed with perfect weather. It also meant we had time to try almost all of the restaurants’ offerings.

If there was any doubt back when Roy Choi started the popular concept, stoner food is huge. Casa served up burgers on pan dulce conchas, while right next-door, The Naughty Churro was serving up fried chicken and churros on a stick. But my favorite munchies were the fried mac and cheese balls from Fred 62, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. Somehow they manage to be rich and decadent without being greasy. Chef Fred Eric has always managed to just tread the line of going too far. Starry Kitchen slung their light and vegan tofu balls rolled in tempura flakes. You can find the recipe in their new cookbook.

There were the always dependable tacos, with Chori Man leading the pack with his Toluca green chicken chorizo taco. Petty Cash Taqueria was almost neck-and-neck though, offering a tender and juicy Chicken Machaca Tostadita made with Slow roasted chicken with tomatoes and poblano peppers, guacamole, pickled onions, roasted peanut sauce, and micro-cilantro. The meat was so rich I had to double-check because I thought it might be carnitas.

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Papermoon Gypsys, Winners of Two Awards, to Headline L.A. Music Critics Awards Showcase in Hollywood

Papermoon Gypsys, Photo Courtesy of Doug Deutsch PR

Papermoon Gypsys, the Orange County-based blues/rock band, recently took home two L.A. Music Critics Awards, ‘Best Blues Artist’ and ‘Fan Favorite’. Several of the winners of this year’s awards will be featured at the L.A. Music Critics Awards Winners Showcase, which the Papermoon Gypsys will headline. The event, on Tuesday, June 20 at 10pm will be held at The Hotel Cafe, 1623 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood.

“We’re honored and, of course, thrilled to win not just one, but two LA Music Critic Awards, in what was a very competitive field,” says Papermoon Gypsys’ guitarist and principal songwriter, Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams. “We personally know many of the bands that competed, and were up against some very talented musicians. Thanks to (LA Music Critic Founder) Robert Leggett for recognizing and involving Papermoon Gypsys in these awards.” He added, “We are very excited to be headlining The LA Music Critics Awards Showcase. It represents all the hard work we’ve been doing for our debut album. It also shows how many people love our music online being fan favorite. We have a great night planned this coming Tuesday night. The last time we played L.A. at The Mint, we got a great review from Music Connection Magazine”. Continue reading

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The Great One is Dead: Saccharine Trust Record Release Party


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CD Review: Peter Lewis – Just Like Jack

When one of your favorite musicians from a bygone era emerges from semi-retirement with a new album, you can find yourself with mixed feelings. Part of you is glad to see they’re still out there, but another part of you is thinking, “Yeah, but can they still deliver?”  Peter Lewis, singer, songwriter and guitarist with the legendary 1960s San Francisco band Moby Grape, waited until 1995 to release his first self-titled solo album on the German label Taxim.  While a bit overpolished at times, the quality of his songwriting still shone through.  Other than two live releases with guitarist David West, also on Taxim, that had been the complete output of Lewis’ solo career. ..Until now.

22 years later, he has returned with Just Like Jack (Steady Boy Records), and it delivers with style and ease.  It is brief, with 10 songs running only 37 minutes, but it’s the perfect length to make you want to hit the repeat button when the last track ends.  Lewis recorded this at both his home studio near Santa Barbara and in Austin, with Explosives members Freddie Steady Krc (drums, co-production) and Cam King (guitars), plus bassist/engineer Layton DePenning, providing strong, empathetic backup throughout.  At 72, Lewis’ voice is still in great form (think Neil Young, but less yowly), and his songwriting is as strong as anything he did in his days with Moby Grape.

Any concerns that he might not still be on top of his game are laid to rest immediately with the first song, “Be With Me”, a heartbreakingly gorgeous love song.  It could have fit comfortably on Moby Grape ’69 or Truly Fine Citizen, yet is timeless enough to also sound like a recent composition (which it is).  A live version from 2014 at the Berkeley Art House is linked below.  Joining Lewis are his daughter Arwen on guitar, granddaughter Olivia on violin, and longtime friend Sam Andrew on guitar. Continue reading

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Movie Review: The Delightfully Silly “Lost In Paris”

Lost In Paris” is a whimsical new film from Oscilloscope Pictures, starring married comedians Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. The couple portrays Dom, a (sort of) lovable French tramp, and Fiona, an awkward but sweet Canadian librarian. The movie blends Buster Keaton-style physical comedy with Wes Anderson’s stylistic surrealness, and it paints Paris as a small, brightly colored movie set of a city.

Fiona, who reminds me of Olive Oil from Pop-Eye, flies to Paris from her tiny, unnamed town in Canada (which is in a constant snowstorm), after her Aunt Martha sends her a letter asking for help in order to avoid being put in a nursing home. Unbeknownst to Fiona, addled Martha wanders off from her apartment immediately after sending the letter, and becomes a tramp herself. Disaster-prone Fiona arrives in Paris and is unable to find her; shortly afterward, she loses all her belongings in a hilarious fall into the Seine, and is hopelessly stranded on her own.

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Album Review – Procol Harum – Novum

I was originally supposed to review this album, the latest by Procol Harum, back in April, you know, prior to its release. That would be the normal review process.  Listen to album, read the liner notes, and give your critical opinion. The reason I have been so tardy in delivering said review is that I’ve really been enjoying this album, it’s that good. Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I’ll tell you that this isn’t another “rock band from the 60’s tries to make yet another comeback” kind of album. The band never really left, they just took a fourteen-year hiatus.  Yes, this album does coincide with the band’s 50th anniversary, but that’s kind of beside the point.  This is so old school (in a good way), it kind of makes me wish that I had it on vinyl so I could burn it out like I did with all my other choice albums.  If that’s not enough throwback for you, the band is touring the U.K. and Europe in support of the album.

One might be tempted also to say that “Oh, there’s only one original member in the band”, but the band has been an ever-evolving entity, and they’ve been keeping on for a long time.  Led by founding member Gary Brooker, this particular iteration has been playing together since the early 1990’s, which is longer than a lot of bands stayed together.  They’ve got a pretty stellar lineup; Matt Pegg (Jethro Tull) on bass, Geoff Dunn (Jimmy Page, Dave Stewart, Van Morrison) on drums, Geoff Whitehorn (Paul Rodgers, Roger Daltrey) on guitar, and Josh Phillips (Pete Townsend, Midge Ure) on keyboards.  That in itself is a stellar lineup, and honestly the album kind of takes me back to Steely Dan.  It actually sounds in some ways like Steely Dan meets The Doobie Brothers.  The production is very lush and unlike most modern albums, it doesn’t sound dead-ended by compression.  It’s clear and crisp in much the same way that the aforementioned groups were.

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Steven Wishnoff’s “Life Interrupted” Garners nearly 20 Awards in 11 Festivals to Date Before Preliminary Voting in Emmy Ballot Opens!

Photo Courtesy of Borgasmord Productions

Ever hankered to meet a clan that outmoded even Modern Family? Ever miss that ol’ skool sitcom feel combined with more evolved and progressive sensibilities? Evered wondered what Ozzie and Harriet might look like if it were Harriet and Harriet? Well look no further than the new indie sitcom created by Steven Wishnoff himself in the form of Life Interrupted.  Starring Mason Reese and featuring Alison Arngrim as Reese’s ex-wife, now paired with Erin Murphy as a married lesbian couple, everybody’s soon-to-be-favorite post-modern family is well on its way to TV screens and more copious computer platforms all across America! Throw in Dawn Wells as Arngrim’s sexy, sassy mother and Michael Learned as Murphy’s elegantly reserved (yet comedically clamorous) matriarch and you’ve got yourself a sitcom to rival that of Diffren’t Strokes and Modern Family all in one… “Diffren’t Family?”  “Modern Strokes”?

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