watt’s picture of the week – thursday, november 26, 2020

way foggy yesterday morning in my pedro town… much clearer today – happy thanksgiving everybody!

photo by mike watt

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mike watt’s hoot page

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Movies Till Dawn: Post-Prandial Palate Cleansers (2020 Edition)

Dolly: The Ultimate Collection” (2020, Time Life) This staggering 19-disc set couldn’t be better timed, given the recent outpouring of affection for Dolly Parton, not for her financial support of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, but also for her long and celebrated tenure as a songwriter, performer, and country music trailblazer. The Time Life set – nicely appointed with display-worthy keepsake/coffee table packaging – covers the breadth of Parton’s career on television, from her debut in 1967 as a vocalist on “The Porter Wagoner Show” (seven episodes are included) and later, as the host of her own syndicated variety series (1976-77). Five episodes from “Dolly” are featured in the set, including the earliest incarnation of the Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt and first collaborations with Kenny Rogers. Curiously, the set includes more of her less successful (and frankly, weirder) 1987 variety series, also called “Dolly,” which pairs her with Hulk Hogan, Pee-Wee Herman, and Oprah Winfrey (and that’s just in the first episode), as well as Bruce Willis, Kermit the Frog, and Joe Piscopo (segments from a Nashville/Grand Ole Opry reunion show with Wagoner, Faron Young, and Kitty Wells are also featured). The full-length documentary “Dolly Parton: Here I Am” and various music videos and guest and talk show appearances (including three “Tonight Show” episodes) fill out the set, but the best standalones are “Song by Song,” which devotes each of its six episodes to one of her best-known songs, along with commentary by (among others) Miranda Lambert and Miley Cyrus, and two full concerts from 2002 and her 2009 appearance at the O2 arena in London. Needless to say, a must-have/get for Dolly devotees, both new and old.

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George Byrne’s “Post Truth” at domicile (n.) Gallery

George Byrne’s Post Truth at domicile gallery. Photo credit: Danny Duarte

George Byrne is an Australian artist whose work pays homage to Los Angeles. He creates abstractions from photos of fragments of local buildings – some iconic (the Hollywood Palladium) and some a bit less so (the 99 Cents Only store in Silver Lake).

Byrne just released “Post Truth,” a new book of his work. He’s also the focus of a solo show of the same name at domicile (n.), an East Hollywood art gallery.

Byrne’s focus is on color and geometry, using urban landscapes that he manipulates subtly. His works are printed on pigment paint: “it adds a painterly glow,” he told me when I checked out his show earlier this month. “I was influenced by Matisse’s cutouts. What happens when you add a chunk of color here?”

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Don’t Panic! Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dinners to the Rescue (2020)

Thanksgiving dinner at Baltaire in Brentwood. Image courtesy of Baltaire.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and during a crazy year like 2020, we can use all the help we can get to make it to Turkey Day. Avoid the mobs at the market and keep things simple by ordering your entire Thanksgiving dinner, or just sides or pies, from the eateries below.

Ayara Thai, Westchester

For a Thai spin on Thanksgiving, the cut-above, family-owned Ayara Thai is offering to-go options like Wagyu Prime Rib Roast and Tomahawk Steak (Thai turkey options are already sold out). You can also order unique side dishes like Fish Sauce Caramelized Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tom Kha Mashed Potatoes, along with Thai Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

Baltaire, Brentwood

Baltaire’s Thanksgiving dinners to-go include Thanksgiving for Four ($285) and Thanksgiving for 6-8 ($495). Each includes a ten-pound Mary’s Free-Range Turkey, Butternut Squash Bisque, Autumn Harvest Salad, Sourdough Stuffing, and much more. If you’re skipping turkey or would rather make your own, just order sides – Baltaire has an Everything But The Turkey for Four option for $155. Optional supplements include Golden Osetra Caviar ($155), Reserve Malossol ($115) with blini, sieved eggs, chives, red onion, and crème fraiche, and Black Truffle Mac and Cheese ($55).  To order, email hello@baltaire.com or call 424.273.1660 and let them know your preferred pick-up time on Wednesday, November 25, as Baltaire will be closed on Thanksgiving.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: a Modern-day Classic in Review

    Photo by Laurel Haberman for the Los Angeles Beat

As I revisited the rarely screened 1988 drama “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” flashes of the film I had seen only once came back to me, in a montage of stunning, sensual and enigmatic snippets of a larger story that I did not fully grasp at the time. Maybe it was ungraspable, like sand running through your outstretched fingers, and that might just be its charm. On the surface, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” gives a keen glimpse into the intellectual and artistic worlds of the Prague Spring of the 1960s, and the subsequent effects of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On a deeply emotional level, the raw nature of sex, war, grief and frustration shocks the audience into stark realization, while simultaneously thrilling us with a spirited joie de vivre that speaks to our souls. “Unbearable” has its devout followers, as well as its detractors, whose opinions are as varied and passionate as the characters themselves. Be forewarned: The film is sexually graphic, though never gratuitous. For lovers of film as art, it is a breathtaking chiaroscuro of cinematic imagery not to be missed.

Deftly crafted tone and harsh reality blend into a masterwork of magic realism, where symbolism is your only guide. Mirrors reflect and lay bare angles of identity unrealized even by the characters themselves. Water and light refresh and uplift, while shadow dooms the characters into the world of nightmares. The use of breathing, growing from light to heavy to unbearable, reminds us throughout of the ever-present life force that drives each character to their personal ambition and final destination. The ecstasy of life pitted against the agony of death holds the viewer captive as we embark on a politically charged and erotic journey with one man, Tomas, and two women, Sabina and Tereza.

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CD Review: Neil Young – Archives Volume II

The run of material produced by Neil Young between 1973 and 76 represents one of the most eccentric, but deeply authentic creative periods ever captured in rock history. The music of Young’s that sits on either side of it chronologically is considerably better known to the public, whether the hippie troubadour years of After The Gold Rush and Harvest, or his monster albums of the late 70s, Comes A Time and Rust Never Sleeps. But the stuff that makes up Archives Volume II, encompassing the “Doom Trilogy” of Time Fades Away, Tonight’s The Night and On The Beach, as well as its unreleased sister album Homegrown and the finally-gonna-screw-my-head-on-right statement Zuma that announced his emergence from the murk- is, to many fans, the ultimate distillation of Young’s gift as not just singer/ songwriter/ guitarist but Vibe Commander.

This part of Young’s life gets a lot of attention in the biography Shakey, detailed reminiscences of extreme times that will surely be a useful accompaniment to this volume. The year 1973 kicks off with the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, one of Young’s most brilliant collaborators, on the eve of his biggest tour to date. Unnerved by the reality of professional rock, he goes the other way and does a fall tour in small theaters with what’s left of the Horse, performing a new, unreleased album in its entirety, and taking on a woozy, tequila-soaked persona closer to a used car salesman than a hippie troubadour. He’d promise a fussy audience “Okay, folks we’re going to do one you’ve heard before!” to great applause, before breaking into the same new song they’d opened the show with. Groan! Continue reading

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Pre-order the Best Holiday Pies in L.A. Before it’s Too Late!

    LACMA Pie Competition. Photo by Elise Thompson.

It’s time to put your orders in for holiday pies before they sell out! Besides the “Holy Trinity” of Holiday pies: Apple, Pecan, and Pumpkin, this list includes some of the best original and mind-blowing pies in town. Here are our recommendations:

Apple Pie – Martino’s Bakery

Burbank / Pre-order by Saturday 11/21

Best known for their addictive little teacakes, this little Bakery turns out an awesome apple pie. Besides the Hi-top apple pie, you can order pecan, sweet potato, and three different kinds of pumpkin pie, as well as non-seasonal pies. You can also pick up their delicate dinner rolls while you’re at it. Curbside pick-up on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 from 11 a.m – 4 p.m.

Apple Crumble Pie – Susie Cakes

Multiple Locations / Pre-order up til Tuesday 11/24

Founded with her grandmother’s recipes, Susie Sarich makes all of her baked goods at Susie Cakes with simple, natural ingredients. We fell in love with her apple pie, but you can also order 9-inch pumpkin, pecan and pumpkin cheesecake. For people who don’t like pie (what kind of monsters are you???), or as a treat for little ones, there is also a selection of Thanksgiving-themed cupcakes. With locations all around Los Angeles, Susie Cakes is convenient for almost everyone. Pick-up or delivery.

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Movies Till Dawn: Truth is Stranger Than Science Fiction

Star Trek: Picard” (2020, CBS Home Video/Paramount Home Video) Sir Patrick Stewart reprises his role as former “Enterprise” captain Jean-Luc Picard in this CBS All Access series. I will confess that I never watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which introduced Picard (and made Stewart a household name in the States), so I can’t say how “Picard” stacks up against its source material. But Stewart brings his considerable gravitas as an older, more rueful version of his stalwart character (a working knowledge of the previous series and the “TNG” feature films does help in regard to understanding why Picard left the space business, and why he’s returned), the new characters – chief among them, the always excellent Alison Pill and Michelle Hurd – mix well with guest turns by “TNG” vets like Brent Spiner and Jeri Ryan, and the signature thematic issues addressed by all “Trek” titles are well considered and effectively dramatized here. The CBS/Paramount Blu-ray set includes commentary on two episodes which showcases the remarkable and diverse talent behind the scenes: author/showrunner Michael Chabon, producers Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, and Kirsten Beyer on the premiere episode and Kurtzman, Beyer and co-writer Jenny Lumet on the “Children of Mars,” an episodes of CBS’s “Short Treks” streaming vignette series. Most of them are also present on several making-of featurettes regarding special effects, makeup, and casting.

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A Cheap Thrills Bake-Off! Glass House Farms Returns To Face Elyon Cannabis: Which Marijuana Do You More-a Wanna?

Photo by Mr. Ubetchakoff for the LA Beat. Please note that both 8th ounce bags were pinched prior to this photo being taken. Not much was taken, but if you’re really into eyeing things out, and the counts look a little light, don’t be alarmed. They are.

Welcome back, my friends, to the joint that never ends. It’s time to play the Cheap Thrills Bake-Off! Our goal is to locate the highest caliber marijuana products that can be regularly found here in the LA and San Fernando Valley area for the state average price of $34 per eighth ounce, or preferably even less.

Today we will pit two competitors in a stoner head-to-head, a battle for the mind and the five senses. We will consider taste, smell and visual appearance, along with the tactile body sensation, and we’re likely to consider how we feel while listening to music, though that’s not so much rating the effect on our hearing as our mind’s perception of the musical phenomena. But can you dig it? The question we wish to answer is, which of these two products gives the most seminal, robust puffy experience for the money?

This week is special, two champions are in the ring. It’s been a while since we checked in on Elyon Cannabis from Sonoma, they were named a Favorite in one of Cheap Thrills’ first ever columns last year. Glass House Farms just won our last Bake-Off handily against another brand that frankly wasn’t up to the task. Their entrant showed so much promise that I felt like bringing them back to face a rival that could put up a fair fight. Prepared for battle, I obtained these from Blaze on Demand delivery for an impressive $25 each.

Who’s ready to get high?

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Mellotron Mondays: Space Out With David Bowie

First released in 1979, “Space Oddity” was David Bowie’s first number 1 hit in the UK and the United States, and became one of the emblematic songs of his career. The main character, Major Tom, was revisited several times over the years, most notably in “Ashes to Ashes” on Scary Monsters.

There are three versions of “Space Oddity,” with Rick Wakeman of Yes playing mellotron on the most well-known Mercury Records version used in the above video. (That’s also Wakeman playing all the keyboards on Hunky Dory the following year.)

The song opens on a serious note with a drum beating out a military tattoo, and the Mellotron is used to good effect to transition the listener to outer space, kind of in the same way everything turned to color when Dorothy arrived on Oz. At the end, we hear a loud cacophony of the mellotron mixed with the stylophone, a weird little circuit board “instrument” that Bowie enjoyed pulling out at appropriate moments. I saw him do a solo on one when he was in LA for his final tour in 2004. Continue reading

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