Visit to LACMA was no burden, but all Burden

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Saturday yours truly headed west to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the debut of Chris Burden’s final (?) work, “Ode to Santos Dumont.” Named for the inventor of the dirigible, Burden’s piece sends a vinyl zeppelin in a 60-foot circle, powered by a tiny gasoline motor and propeller attached to an Erector-set undercarriage.

I was among the 200 or so folks in the first group at noon. Watch a 60-second video of the dirigible’s first loop.

It was charming, each pass offering a fresh look. But I have to say, 15 minutes is a long time to watch something this repetitive, and many drifted away after 8 or 10 minutes. Some of us stuck it out purely to see the end, when the engine stopped, the balloon made one final loop under its own momentum, and the two minders came out to gently lower the undercarriage into its movable cradle. They got a round of applause.

“Ode” is at LACMA through June 21 and is included in the admission price.

While at LACMA, I made sure to see Burden’s two permanent installations: “Urban Light,” below, and “Metropolis II,” at bottom. I also shot a video of the latter.

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Column: ‘Urban Light’ artist’s sculpture brightens Claremont

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Artist Chris Burden, who died Sunday at age 69, is a Pomona College alumnus, class of ’69, whose early sculpture “Untitled Sculpture” is on permanent display at the college. Above and below are views of the piece, with a plaque in the lawn giving Burden the credit.

My Wednesday column is about Burden, and there’s an accompanying video that I shot Tuesday morning at the sculpture. The college’s statement about Burden is here. Two more links, both to the LA Times: his obituary by art critic Christopher Knight and an appreciation of “Urban Light” and Burden by architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne.

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Below are his two best-known works, “Urban Light” and, at bottom, “Metropolis II.” A video of the latter can be seen here.

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Column: Claudia Rankine’s poetry a window into race

Sunday’s column is a profile of Claudia Rankine, a Claremont poet whose book “Citizen” is receiving national attention and acclaim. She’ll be reading from her work at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Little Bridges (Bridges Hall of Music) in Claremont.

Let me say, there are few subjects more nerve-wracking for me to write about than a writer, especially knowing they’ve been written about by national publications. She may not care one way or the other, or even read what I wrote, but I always put extra pressure on myself to do a good job (or at least not embarrass myself)!

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Column: Penny Lane Records now giving Upland a spin

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Remember Penny Lane Records? I do: I used to visit its Colorado Boulevard store back when Old Town Pasadena was interesting, and it had a bunch of other stores around L.A. I thought it was out of business until a couple of years ago, when a reader alerted me Penny Lane had a small store and Internet business in, of all places, an Upland industrial park. It took me until now to visit, but that’s okay, as Saturday, Penny Lane is participating in its first Record Store Day.

Steve Bicksler, pictured above and below, founded the store in 1985 and, three decades later, is still hanging in there, now as the sole employee. The tenacious store’s new and old lives are explored in Friday’s column.

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Favorite films of 2014

I saw 32 new or new-ish movies last year, which puts me somewhere in between diehard moviegoers and dabblers. I have movie-loving friends who see nearly everything that comes out and others who are Netflix-only.

So, take my list with a grain of salt as always. I produce them anyway, since 2010 (here’s last year’s), because they’re fun to do, they might turn you on to a movie you hadn’t known of or seen, and you can chime in with your own likes and dislikes.

I’ve listed every movie I saw, so if you don’t see a title listed below, I didn’t see it. So much for the December releases Selma, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year (which came out Dec. 31), Inherent Vice or Imitation Game, or for that matter Chef and Get on Up from earlier in the year. A couple of the titles (Her, 20 Feet From Stardom) officially came out in 2013, but almost nobody saw them until 2014.

Lastly, I rank them based on how much pleasure they gave me at the time, and how much of them I can remember as I think back on them. A couple of rankings from 11 to 20 may surprise you, but all I can say is, I enjoyed the heck out of them.

In roughly descending order, here’s my Top 10: Calvary, Boyhood, The Trip to Italy, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lunchbox, Nightcrawler, A Summer’s Tale, Fading Gigolo and Whiplash.

The next 10 would run as follows: Top Five, Wild, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, Interstellar, Gloria, St. Vincent, Grand Budapest Hotel, Hercules, The Equalizer, Foxcatcher.

Here are the bottom 12. The first two are worth your time, and starting with Birdman they get increasingly iffy: Force Majeure, Guardians of the Galaxy, Birdman, 20 Feet From Stardom, Gone Girl, A Most Wanted Man, Under the Skin, Her, Love is Strange, Dancing in Jaffa, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Tim’s Vermeer.

What did you see and like, or hate?

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Favorite music of 2014

Does anyone still buy CDs? Some of us do. You can find my Top 10 CDs of the year — my Top 15, actually, as I added five runnerups — at our IE Music Now blog, along with the picks of my newsroom colleagues Liset Marquez and Wes Woods, both of whom are hipper than me (even though they still buy CDs too).

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Column: For Ray Bradbury fans, overlapping events this way come

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Claremont has a Bradbury film, “Fahrenheit 451,” at 2 p.m. Sunday; meanwhile, Pomona has a Bradbury film, “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” at 3 p.m. Sunday. Awkward! Wednesday’s column delves into both events, either of which promises entertainment for the Bradbury fan. Pomona’s is more star-studded (Edward James Olmos! Joe Mantegna!) but there’s a fee to get in, as it’s a fundraiser to benefit the Pomona Public Library. Claremont’s is cheaper (free!). Also, I’ll be there, introducing the film, moderating a discussion afterward and, if you like, selling you a copy of “Pomona A to Z.”

Above, there’s a neat display this week of Bradbury items at the Pomona Library (625 S. Garey), with books, photos and memorabilia, and DVDs of the two films this weekend happened to be placed side by side.

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Column: Millard Sheets’ rainbow murals return to Honolulu Hilton

Friday’s column starts with the (admittedly belated) news of a massive mural by Millard Sheets on the 31-story Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort that has been restored. I’d been meaning to write about this for weeks but decided to wait for a chance to talk to Sheets’ son at the Fair. Have you ever seen the mural? Personally, I’ve never even been to Hawaii. But the mural looks cool.

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Wussy!

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Above, from left, Joe Klug, Lisa Walker, Chuck Cleaver and Mark Messerly; off-camera, John Erhardt.

This has nothing to do with the Inland Valley, but it’s a chance to put in a plug for my favorite band, Cincinnati’s Wussy. They say they’re “bridging the gap between The Band and Sonic Youth,” and the band X is another point of comparison. Two friends and I saw them at the Silverlake Lounge on Friday night and we stood just feet away. What a thrill.

Also, I ran into co-lead singer Chuck Cleaver on the sidewalk before the show and he signed one of my CDs, took it into the tour van for everyone else to sign, and posed with me for a photo (see below). Try getting U2 to do any of that.

The sound’s not so hot, but I recorded two short videos on my phone: “Maglite” and “Yellow Cotton Dress.” Of course, Maglite flashlights are made in Ontario, so there’s your local connection if you need one.

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Jack White at the Fox

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The ex-White Stripe performed Thursday night at the Pomona Fox, one of the highest-profile concerts the venue has seen. (Green Day, Morrissey and a few more were bigger.)

After a set by the Cold War Kids, White — looking stylish in a black and white checked suit and a fedora — rocked the house for nearly an hour with 11 songs, took a short break and then returned for another 40 minutes and nine songs. Here’s the setlist. Either this was a really long encore or a full second set.

White was energetic, jumping around the stage, playing a lot of lead guitar (and, on a couple of tunes, piano) and moving quickly from one song to the next. We ate it up. Here’s my colleague Wes Woods’ review, with a video.

An announcement before the old-school White came on asked that people “enjoy the moment” rather than take photos. This got a cheer of approval, surprisingly. Professional photos would be taken, posted on White’s website and available for download for anyone who wanted mementos, we were told. While some around me on the floor did take photos anyway, there were a lot fewer than is typical at a concert these days.

So, that explains the two high-quality images with this blog post. You can find more on White’s site.

White has performed three previous times in Pomona, all at the Glass House: with the Stripes in 2002 and 2005 and with another band, Dead Weather, in 2009. He made joking references to past appearances at one point. His fabulist spiel went something like this (I pulled out a piece of paper and pen about halfway through):

“In 1993 my band the Rabble Rousers played the Glass House. In 1995 I played the Glass House with my new band Jerry’s Kids. In 2001 I played the bar next to the Glass House with my band Deeper Purple. In 2003 we played Pomona again. But it was Pomona, Montana. It was a scheduling mishap. A promoter booked us on a tour from San Diego to Montana. We had 10 hours between gigs.”

Ha ha! What a kidder.

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