Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Highlights: Weekend 2,132 on Earth

1. Armenian Genocide Commemoration @ Alex Theater (Glendale)

This was not the rip-roaring good time I had expected. I'd driven out to Glendale because I thought there was a good story here, one I could maybe write about. Remembrance of this particular genocide is, after all, wrapped in a bizarre, longstanding-standoff (the Armenian Diaspora demands an apology from an empire 87 years dead, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge commonly accepted historical facts). I've known several bright, politically astute young Turks who transformed into snarling Archie Bunkers over this one issue. I'm assuming the same could be said of many bright, politically astute young Armenian-Americans. It's weird. I really did think I'd get a weird article out of the night.

Instead, I was treated to a lot of bad dramatic soliloquies and somber orchestral music. I guess it would be tasteless for me to critique the dramatic presentations on the same scale with which one would critique a bad civic theater musical. But it is fair to say that when stacked up against the night's alternative - going to Hollywood park with my wife and her buddies to see Joan Jett for $7 - I kind of blew it. Oops.

2. Photo Op (Claremont)

Andy Coronado was in town this weekend, and spotted this in front of a local liquor store;

I think his take was that the abandoned wheelchair scooter symbolized the depravity of mankind, whereas I saw it as a more positive development, maybe even a miracle. When we were in a band together, this pessimist/optimist dynamic was simply explosive.

3. Azbuka @ The Press (Claremont)

I've seen Aaron Kenyon perform for 18 years, but this was the first time I'd seen him play without fellow Man Is The Bastard alum Joel Connell behind the drums. Anyone who's witnessed these guys live knows about the Mind Meld; it's such a singular, unique phenomenon that it took me a few songs of Kenyon's new group Azbuka to really get my bearings. Kenyon didn't seem to totally lobe-merge with guitarist / pianist / drummer Patrick, but I wouldn't say they were totally two separate individual organisms either. Despite the amazing food, the Press - housing a bar frequented by hooting loudmouths on weekend nights - is a notoriously hard venue for any band to play. These guys totally pulled it off.

Here's a tabletop portrait of Kenyon, as drawn by Metalocalypse's Ako Castuera;

And here's a tabletop portrait of Kenyon's dog Auggie that perhaps has the Ernest Borgnine turned up 5% too high;

If I were one day informed that I would have to be Auggie's foster parent, I would gladly throw all my other animals in the trash, no questions asked.

4. "Woody Landscape With A Pool And Figures" (Pasadena)

Back pain forced me to be selective with my browsing at Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum. But I was able to stand in one spot long enough to read the plaque for Jacob van Ruisdael's 1660 "Woody Landscape", which told me that the human and animal figures are less significant and were usually added by figure painters. Then I noticed this;

Did livestock smut fly back in the 1660's? Did someone else - some anonymous "figure painter" lost to the ages - dirty up Ruisdael's original masterpiece after the fact? Is it possible to get photobombed two centuries before photography??

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mystery: Recent Past Recreated

POMONA, April 23 - Some Hollywood types have been filming a movie in my neighborhood. This is a rarer event than you'd think. Angelinos view the eastern end of their own county like that creepy outermost section of a shopping mall parking lot where no one ever goes except to buy Christmas trees once a year. The city of Pomona shelled out $13,225 to entice Nuclear Mango Studios to venture into the outer burbs. I guess that was big enough of a Christmas Tree.

The movie, "Politics Of Love", takes place in mid-2008. Local storefronts were done up as competing campaign headquarters in a strange attempt to recreate the world of the very recent past. The fake Obama headquarters was decorated in fake Shepard Fairey art. There are several bars not far from here; I like the idea that someone could come stumbling down this street, alone and besotted, and suddenly realize they'd been transported back in time by twenty months. That must have happened.

The movie concerns forbidden love on the campaign trail. Its working title was "Love, Barack". It sounds pretty dull. What they should do is make a movie about an alternate universe where McCain wins, tanks the economy by choking government spending, bombs Iran and establishes a 2,000-mile-long continuous front in the Middle East, then promptly falls, breaks his hip, and dies. Now there's a movie.

Not far from here, a withered HAPPY 50TH Mylar balloon dangles limply from a tree. I thought it was one of the saddest things I'd ever seen until it was pointed out to me that it might have been the tree's birthday, it which case it was kind of an uplifting sight.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Blogger: Neil Burke

BALONEY TIME, APRIL 9 - I'm still going to be busy through the weekend, so guest blogger Neil Burke takes the wheel this week. Enjoy. Thanks, Neil.