Even if they don’t claim to be fully punk, the existence and widespread popularity of Kyoto band Otoboke Beaver is proof that punk’s not dead. Although theirs is an extreme expression of it which incorporates a lot of other stimulus that is not necessarily common in American punk, the sheer brashness and good time high-energy of it registers in the American brain as “very punk” despite those other influences. We have no built in detector for the influence of Japanese comedy or pop music if we don’t consume that stuff, so “punk” in America they shall be, and they seem to be OK with that. It sure doesn’t seem they are at any risk of being mistaken for the Offspring here in the heart of OC, to an audience young enough not to necessarily be referencing famous bands of the nineties – let alone seventies and eighties – as their punk rock starting point. (Minutes after I wrote that line, the lead singer posted a photo of herself with the guitarist from the Offspring, backstage at this show, on Instagram.-Ed.) In front of a packed Observatory, they were resolutely themselves and gave us an hour of that thing they do, which after fifteen years, shows no sign of going out of style.
This band are a lot of fun to watch, each in their own colorful corner. Hirochan, on bass, is blue, like the sea and the sky, the environment which defines the shape for their strange forms. Kahokiss, the drummer, wears green like the meadows and the fields and the mountains. She forms the rhythmic floor upon which the stories can be told, the complex yet naturalistic structures that make them interesting. Guitarist Yoyoyoshie is orange, the spark, the fire under the feet of the band that makes them play with such incredible speed and urgency. And Accorinrin is pink, the reddened face and beating heart of the human being that pushes out thoughts such as “I Won’t Dish Out Salad”, “Take Me To Meet Your Family” and “I Don’t Want To Die Alone” as song topics, with terrific intensity. Not since Kiss in 1978 have a band been so thoughtfully and effectively color coordinated.
* indicates that the film is also available to rent, buy, or stream from various platforms. Please note that streaming version may different from these discs’ presentations.
“Cutting Class” * (1989, MVD Rewind) Just who, wonders winsome Jill Schoelen, is dispatching the staff and students at her high school (played by Excelsior High in Norwalk) with ruthless efficiency and diabolical creativity? Is the culprit her athlete boyfriend (a pre-fame Brad Pitt)? The creepy principal (Roddy McDowall)? All fingers seem to point at new kid Donovan Leitch, freshly sprng from an asylum. The answer is, well, largely irrelevant in this curious late-entry slasher film, which lists heedlessly from straight-ahead body count thriller to weirdo comedy; the latter element is best summed up by a recurring bit involving Martin Mull as Schoelen’s father, whose struggles to get home after being skewered with an arrow hinge between slapstick and surreal. The tonal shifts in “Cutting Class” are, undoubtedly, one of the primary reasons for its enduring cult appeal (the others are, of course Pitt, who manfully shoulders his dopey role, and some absurdly gross murders), and in turn, MVD’s deluxe UHD/Blu-ray presentation. The two-disc set includes interviews with Schoelen and Leitch, who have kind things to say about the film’s eclectic helmers – frequent John Boorman scripter Rospo Pallenberg in his directorial debut and writer Steve Slavkin, who later penned lots of kid TV – and their castmates. Devotee will be pleased by the inclusion of the longer and gorier unrated version of the film, the bloody highlights of which are spotlighted in a short kill-count featurette.
A week ago Saturday, we celebrated the birth of one of the greatest men in the history of music – Cliff Burton. Like most, I usually spend the day in both quiet reflection of “what if” and in joyful bliss of listening to the master of bass. I didn’t get nearly enough time for my Cliff devotions and then the universe kindly presented me with a press release about the Morley Power Wah Fuzz Cliff Burton Tribute pedal. Even better the press release had a link to some Cliff live. Cliff Burton bass solo rabbit hole? YES, PLEASE!
So let’s just say that bass was on my mind when I headed over to My Slutty Valentine at the Echoplex on Saturday. Last year I went to Basic Cable Programming’s inaugural one-day music festival to check out Upchuck from Atlanta up close and personal and to spend some time adoring my Bestie on drums with GayC/DC. I ended up falling in love with the whole festival. Not just because it was my intro to Cancer Christ and for the incredible performance from Naked Aggression, everything about the festival had a welcoming vibe. I was definitely one of the older people there and I was so enchanted by the Gen Z music lovers and the overall acceptance that gender roles are bullshit. From the merch booths to the most pits, I had a truly lovely time. Continue reading →
Alisha Soper and Laura Gardner Photo by Paul Kennedy
Everyone loves a good showbiz story and the inaugural offering of ICT’s 2024 season leaves no one in the theater wanting.
The world premiere of “Marilyn, Mom and Me” by award winning playwright and director Luke Yankee delivers the goods in ways that you don’t see coming, surpassing all expectations and pre-conceived notions of what you think the show might be about.
Audiences can be forgiven for thinking that this might be one more example of a Hollywood tell-all biopic complete with celebrity impressions but it couldn’t be farther from that scenario in its explorations of insecurity, loneliness and closure that never comes, all under the unforgiving microscope of fame and glamour. The play details the friendship of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe and her co-star Eileen Heckart during the filming of the 1956 film “Bus Stop”, as related by Heckart to her son Luke Yankee.
The play never drags but moves deftly forward from the start, propelled by a stellar cast under the excellent and brisk direction of playwright Yankee in this fascinating auto-biographical work.
Alisha Soper and Laura Gardner Photo by Paul Kennedy
Laura Gardner steals the show with her performance as Eileen Heckart, flawlessly channeling her gravitas, body language and irascible humor. Caught between her maternal love for her son and her disapproval of his lifestyle, she fluctuates from genuine support and outright brutal honesty in her attempts to, as she believes, make him realize his full potential as a creative force who is truly capable of doing great work.
Alisha Soper Photo by Paul Kennedy
The amazing Alisha Soper defies all expectations of a “Marilyn Monroe impersonator” as she brings pathos and true humanity in her portrayal of one of America’s most beloved icons of cinema. Far more than a two dimensional cutout, Soper is practically a magician in creating a real person that entertains and makes our hearts ache to witness her interior pain. She embodies everything that’s RIGHT about the burden of creating a realistic Monroe and to experience that is a rare treat for audiences. You won’t be disappointed in the least.
Alisha Soper and Noah Wagner Photo by Paul Kennedy
The program credits Long Beach Theater veteran Noah Wagner as “Josh Logan and Others” but that is a vast understatement as Wagner deftly alternates between portraying Josh Logan, Arthur Miller, Laurence Olivier, Duane the Second AD, Mocambo owner Charlie Morrison, a Mocambo waiter….the list is endless. Wagner is always a shining jewel in every play and performance that he inhabits and it’s truly a joy to see him grace the stage for the first time at ICT.
Laura Gardner and Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield Photo by Paul Kennedy
The bombastic Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield is also fielding multiple roles as Rosetta, Paula Strasberg and another Hollywood legend, jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. Her portrayal as Heckart’s best friend Rosetta is a solid combination of comedic moments and a Greek Chorus towards Heckart’s relationship with her son but it’s her performance as Ella Fitzgerald that absolutely showcases just how good Schofield is with equal parts comedy, tragedy and her incredible prowess in belting out Fitzgerald’s purity of tone. A crowd-pleaser, to be sure!
Brian Rohan and Laura Gardner Photo by Paul Kennedy
Brian Rohan portrays Luke Yankee himself, ably and confidently bringing to life the author as main protagonist. He bears the load of living in the shadow of celebrity in full measure while seeking his own spotlight and accomplishments, eliciting our empathy without asking for it. Kudos, well done!
The set design by Scenic Designer Dan Volonte is sparse, minimal and incredibly effective with many playing spaces on the geometric shapes and a few chairs, the projected images on a rear screen being a very nice touch in bringing the audience to so many different locales within the story. Wardrobe and Costume Design by Kimberley DeShazo is right on point, recalling 1956 in all its glory, lightning-fast costume changes notwithstanding.
In her inimitable and classy style, Artistic Director caryn desai opened the season with a wonderful curtain speech about the importance of supporting Long Beach theater and this show is an excellent example of doing just that.
Don’t miss this stellar show before it closes on March 3rd. Enjoy the glamour, heart and humanity that is “Marilyn, Mom and Me”.
MARILYN, MOM AND ME
International City Theatre
330 E. SEASIDE WAY, LONG BEACH CA 90802
A true story written and directed by Long Beach resident Luke Yankee, whose mother was a well-known, Oscar and Tony-winning character actress named Eileen Heckart. In 1956, when Heckart was cast as Marilyn Monroe’s best friend in the film, BUS STOP, Monroe, the ultimate “method actress”, set out to make Heckart her best friend in real life. 40 years later, Luke tries to unravel his complex, often volatile relationship with his mother by better understanding her intense friendship with one of the biggest movie stars of all time.
Otoboke Beaver, from Kyoto, Japan, titled their latest album Super Champon, after a Japanese dish that seems to involve throwing every single ingredient in the kitchen into a bowl with some noodles. It’s an appropriate metaphor for the band’s musical style, assuming the dish is served hot, confusing and ultimately satisfying. Given the frantic pace of the tuneage, it’s not too far of a leap to call them a punk band, though to follow their interviews, the members would tell you they feel that’s not quite complete.
One of the non-punk rock influences they like to cite is the Japanese comedy known as Manzai. The clip below is what came up when I checked YouTube for guitarist Yoyoyoshie’s recommendation – “a Manzaishi called Westland” – to a participant in their Reddit AMA who had asked the group to suggest a good funny show to watch. I can’t help but notice some aspects reflected in the song “Pardon” almost immediately. Continue reading →
Valentine’s Day is mere days away, and whether you’re craving a decadently luxurious meal or seeking more affordable price points, we’ve got you covered.
1. ALK (acronym for “About Last Knife”) is the chic, lobby-level restaurant at The Godfrey HotelHollywood with a kitchen manned by talented French Chef Olivier Rousselle. On Valentine’s Day, visit ALK for live jazz, a special Komos tequila cocktail, Komos chocolates to take home, and a special 4-course meal ($68 per person). Meal highlights include a shrimp ceviche amuse bouche and braised short ribs. More info
2. Savor an elevated Valentine’s dining experience at Morton’s The Steakhouse. This elegant dinner for two ($169) includes a 28 oz. New York Strip, two cold water lobster tails, shared salad, two signature steak toppers (such as black truffle hollandaise, cognac au poivre sauce, or blue cheese butter), and two of Morton’s fantastic side dishes (choices include creamed spinach, jumbo grilled asparagus, smoked gouda au gratin potatoes, and more). Morton’s LA locations include DTLA, Woodland Hills, and Burbank. More info
3. Enjoy a drive to Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County and stop at Tensley Wine’s Tasting Room for the exclusive launch of their 2023 Rosé Grenache on February 14. Tensley Wine is growing in acclaim: it was hailed by Food & Wine for producing “The Best Syrah in America.” Priced at just $32 a bottle, this Rosé Grenache will make Valentine’s Day, or any day, very special. More info
4. Acclaimed izakaya-inspired restaurant n/soto is offering a very special, takeout-only Valentine’s Bento. Only 50 boxes, priced at $150 and serving two, are available. Each bento features 6 hand rolls per person, miso caesar salad, roasted beets, pork ribs, chicken kaarage, squid kaarage, hojicha panna cotta, and a black sesame brownie. Order via Resy.
*indicates that the film(s) are also available to view, rent, or purchase on various streaming platforms. Streaming presentations may differ from these home video releases.
“Universal Classic Monsters Limited Collectors Edition” * (2024, Universal Home Video) You may ask yourself: do I need this deluxe repackaging of Universal’s best-known, best-loved horror titles like “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi and “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff? Only you, dear reader, can answer that with total honesty, but I will say that this set compiles the aforementioned titles along with “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man” (41), “The Mummy” (32), “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” the majority of which are foundational titles in horror history and essential owns for any genre fan. These alone, along with 12 hours of commentaries, featurettes, interviews and other supplemental material that accompany them, would warrant purchase alone, were it not for the fact that Uni has issued these films in various iterations on numerous occasions over the past few years. But: the Limited Edition does include the eight films in 4K and digital presentations, and the extras include material penned and hosted by the late David J. Skal, who was (for my money) one of the best horror film and culture historians of the last 25 years. And you get eye-popping cover art by artist Tristan Eaton, whose monster murals decorate the Universal back lot, where many of these films were lensed long, long ago. So: if you don’t have Dracula, et al, in your collection yet, here’s a visually striking package to fill that gap.
Savor delicious tastes from Los Angeles’ most acclaimed new eateries when Los Angeles Magazine celebrates its 11th annual Best New Restaurants on Thursday, February 8, at California Market Center in DTLA.
In addition to enjoying tastings from best new restaurants — both present and past — your ticket also allows you to indulge in a special selection of boutique wines, innovative cocktails, and other special experiences.
Participating restaurants include Ardor, ATLA Venice, Baar Baar Los Angeles, Bar Chelou, Casa Madera,Casaléna, Charcoal Sunset, Dante Beverly Hills, ĐiĐi, Donna’s, Espelette Beverly Hills, Hank’s, LAVO Ristorante, Loreto, Love & Salt, Mirate, Mr. T Los Angeles, OMG Kabob, San Laurel by José Andrés at the Conrad Los Angeles, Saucy Chick Goat Mafia, Thai Central Cuisine, Tenkatori West L.A., Uchi West Hollywood, XUNTOS, and Yakiya. You’ll find desserts from BAKE SOME NOISE, Bertha Mae’s Brownie Co., Etoile Filante Patisserie, and I Like Pie Bake Shop.
Pair these sublime food tastings with superior wines from Bernardus Winery (Santa Lucia Highlands), Croix Estate (Russian River Valley), Flanagan Wines (Sonoma County), Frey Vineyards (Mendocino), Innumero Wines (Sonoma County), Lasseter Family Winery (Sonoma Valley), Limerick Lane Cellars (Sonoma Valley), Michael Mondavi Family Estate(Napa), Miner Family Winery (Napa Valley), Mt. Beautiful Winery (North Canterbury, New Zealand), St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery (Napa Valley), and Thibido Winery (Paso Robles).
Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased here.
* indicates that this title is also available to stream, rent, or purchase on various platforms. Please note that streaming options may differ from these home video presentations.
“Sisters with Transistors” * (2020, Metrograph Pictures) Laurie Anderson narrates this doc about the pioneering women of electronic music whose full due still remains frustratingly out of reach. The most well-known of the ten artists profiled are Wendy Carlos and Suzanne Ciani (whose ear-splitting appearance on “The David Letterman Show” is included), though crate diggers will recognize BBC composers Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire (“Doctor Who”), as well as Bebe Barron (who scored “Forbidden Planet” with ex-husband Louis), theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, and experimental forerunner Pauline Oliveros. The film’s central thesis – that these composers helped usher electronic music from curiosity to mainstream art form without receiving the same recognition as their male peers – is underscored through modern and vintage interviews and clips (Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore being aurally assaulted by Maryanne Amacher’s performance), as well as director Lisa Rovner’s visual flourishes (sly stock footage of happy teens appearing to dance to the composers’ work). Attention to these composers’ works has grown exponentially in the last two decades; one hopes that “Sisters” pushes them further into the spotlight that has so long alluded them. Metrograph’s DVD includes two excellent panel/Zoom discussions – one with Ciani and newer electronic artists (including Moor Mother and Modular Princess), and another featuring Alissa DeRubeis and Suzi Analogue, among others – and a Q&A with Rovner.
Runyon Canyon Entrance, January 23, 2024. Photo by Else “Evil E” Duff
For nearly two decades, Runyon Canyon hikers and dog walkers could count on grabbing a bottle of water or a snack at a stand located right by the park’s entrance at the Fuller Avenue gate. Ran completely on the honor system, people were trusted to leave money based on suggested pricing. With the rise of payment apps easing the ability to pay, the selection of beverages and snacks grew. Options included a variety of drinks, fresh fruit, protein bars, chips, and at one point – freshly squeezed orange juice. Free treats were available to dogs along with a watering station. Today the stand is gone.