“The Phantom of the Opera” and “Nosferatu,” both from the 1920s, will screen at local churches in Claremont and Pomona, respectively, with live organ accompaniment in the days before Halloween. I preview those in Friday’s column, as well as update my list of book tour stops (come see me!), present a bunch of Culture Corner items and offer up a Valley Vignette.
I attended an unusual concert last Friday at Claremont’s Little Bridges, an experimental music event involving a minimal John Cage score and contributions by former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore. I write about it in Wednesday’s column.
For a little backstory, I had not initially planned to write about the show, only attend for fun (although I did bring a notepad and took notes, just in case).
But then I was told the LA Times was covering the event. That got my competitive instincts going. While it wasn’t like I was going to out-write or out-think the LAT’s classical music critic, it seemed a shame to have a Claremont piece in the Times and yet ignore the event myself.
Monday afternoon, I decided to try writing a blog post about the show. After a few paragraphs, I thought, this is getting kind of long; let me cut and paste this into our article software and see HOW long. Well, it was around 500 words, which is verging on the length of a short column. Huh. Seemed like a waste to just post it here, so instead I decided to give myself a break and turn it into a column.
Possibly of interest, my blog style and my column style are slightly different, and so I adjusted the writing a bit and added a few paragraphs, with the finished result coming in at around 750 words, shorter than usual but long enough — especially for a column about a rather arcane musical happening.
The great Greil Marcus was at Pomona College on Thursday night for a talk about failure, and I was there. (Thus probably accentuating the failure.) Needing a topper to some items for Sunday, I was hoping for the best, and was rewarded. Read that — plus a few items — in Sunday’s column.
A Claremont-based theatrical group for children, Alliance for the Performing Arts, must vacate its 6,000-square-foot storage space in Pomona by May 1 — but has nowhere to take its vast numbers of costumes, props and set pieces. I don’t know if a column will help, but it can’t hurt. I write about it for Wednesday’s column.
Painter Millard Sheets was also the designer of the classic Home Savings thrift branches, a career that is explored in a new book, “Banking on Beauty.” I write about that book and that work in Friday’s column. Above, the former Home Savings at Second and Garey in downtown Pomona, now owned by Western University of Health Sciences with Chase Bank on the lower level.
Ophelia’s Jump has gambled on presenting the sorts of modern, edgy plays common in LA and uncommon out here, and found success. Now they have a permanent space after bouncing among venues the past six years. I profile the couple behind the group and catch a dress rehearsal of “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” for Wednesday’s column.
Saturday afternoon I attended not one but two art openings. The first was at the Ontario Museum of History and Art, which is focusing on the latter for “Diversity and Inclusion.” Over four rooms, it’s got paintings, collages, drawings, sculpture, embroidery and probably something I forgot, all offering a look at the African-American experience.
It was well-attended, and at times the galleries were actually crowded. Probably half the attendees were black, a nice sight in Ontario and at a local art event. That and the strong turnout should be encouragement to do more such shows. Besides, most of the art was really strong.
After that, I headed for Cal Poly Pomona for “Positively 4th Street,” an ode in paintings, drawings, assemblages and text to LA’s 4th Street viaduct. It’s a small show, but likewise evocative. Below is Richard Willson’s “The Approach.” He and Roderick Smith did the art and D.J. Waldie provided text and an essay on the bridge’s history. I introduced myself to Waldie and got his autograph in my copy of “Holy Land.”
Find the exhibit on the 4th floor of the University Library through April 12.
All in all, a pleasant, visually stimulating afternoon across two counties.
Milford Zornes, who died at 100 in 2008 in Claremont, is the subject of an art exhibit and a biography by his son-in-law. A day ahead of what would have been his 110th birthday, I write about him in Wednesday’s column.
Consider this the How Did We Stand the Suspense Edition, coming as it does 10 days into the new year. I had planned to wait on this list a few days into 2018 to buy myself time to see an extra movie or two. But then I came down with a cold, which meant I couldn’t get out to any movies OR produce the list, the pen-and-ink draft of which was on my desk at the office. Sheesh.
At least I got to two movies in the final days of the year, and they filled my No. 1 and 2 slots.
- The Shape of Water
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Lady Bird
- Get Out
- The Big Sick
- Wonder Woman
- The Trip to Spain
- War for the Planet of the Apes
- My Cousin Rachel
- Blade Runner 2049
It was hard to know where or if to place Arrival, which was a 2016 release when I saw it last January. Fences was another holdover, but I liked it less. Arrival would have come in around No. 8. From No. 11 down, the rest of my 2017 movies would run like this: Thor: Ragnarok, The Beguiled, Dunkirk, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Beatriz at Dinner, Rat Film.
Obviously I missed or haven’t yet had a chance to see lots of good movies, among them The Post, Phantom Thread, Darkest Hour, Molly’s Game, Call Me By Your Name, Novitiate, All the Money in the World, The Florida Project, Mudbound and I, Tonya. Oh well.
What did you see in 2017 that you liked — or hated?
We’re in an age when music seems to mean less to the average person than ever before, but many of us still care, and some of them are my friends and colleagues. Below you’ll find a list of my favorite releases of 2017, pictured above. Wes Woods’ list is below mine.
- Rolling Blackouts CF: “Talk Tight” (Sub Pop)
- Arcade Fire: “Everything Now” (Columbia)
- Waxahatchee: “Out in the Storm” (Merge Records)
- Jens Lekman: “Life Will See You Now” (Secretly Canadian)
- Saint Etienne: “Home Counties” (Heavenly)
- Kamasi Washington: “Harmony of Difference” (Young Turks)
- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “The Nashville Sound” (Southeastern Records)
- Randy Newman: “Dark Matter” (Nonesuch)
- Yumi Zouma: “Willowbank” (Cascine)
- The Magnetic Fields: “50 Song Memoir” (Nonesuch)
- Brad Paisley: “Love and War” (Arista Nashville)
- Various Artists: “The Rough Guide to the Music of West Africa” (World Music Network)
- The Pollyseeds: “Sounds of Crenshaw, Volume One” (Ropeadope Records)
- Kendrick Lamar: “Damn” (Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records)
- Rapsody: “Laila’s Wisdom” (Jamla Records, Roc Nation)
- Valerie June: “The Order Of Time” (Concord Records)
- SZA: “Ctrl” (Top Dawg Entertainment, RCA Records)
- Thundercat: “Drunk” (Brainfeeder)
- Sampha: “Process” (Young Turks)
- Jlin: “Black Origami” (Planet Mu)
- The War on Drugs: “A Deeper Understanding” (Atlantic Records)
- St. Vincent: “Masseduction” (Loma Vista Recordings)
- (tie) The xx: “I See You” (Young Turks); Migos: “Culture” (Quality Control Music, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records); Joey Bada$$: “All-Amerikkkan Badass” (Pro Era Records, Cinematic Music Group)