In an annual exercise by the hardcore music nuts in our newsroom, we compiled lists of our 10 (or more) favorite 2015 music releases for our IE Music Now blog. Check it out here. My list is there and the CDs themselves are pictured above.
I’m not an avid moviegoer, but I like movies. Last year I saw 23 new releases, from superhero punch-’em-ups to art films. In an annual tradition (here’s my 2014 list), I rank them. One note: Four of the movies were released at the very end of 2014 and were on the lists that year of professional critics; like most people, I saw them in 2015, and they’re on my list.
In roughly descending order, my Top 10 goes like this: Spotlight, Selma, Brooklyn, Room, Mr. Holmes, The Theory of Everything, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Imitation Game, Amy, Grandma. (Does having a one-word title give a film a leg up in my eyes, or do most films have one-word titles? Discuss.)
Numbers 11 to 20: Sicario, The Martian, Hitchcock/Truffaut, All Things Must Pass: The Story of Tower Records, Ant-Man, Love and Mercy, Heart of a Dog, Spectre, Ex-Machina, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.
Bottom of the heap: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, While We’re Young, Goodbye to Language.
If you didn’t see it listed, that means I didn’t see it.
What were your most and least favorites?
Sunday’s column reports on humorist David Sedaris’ Thursday night reading in Claremont, which I attended. I had expected only to write an item on it, but he ended up being the whole column. He’s pretty funny, so that’s right in my wheelhouse. Above, a photo of the video feed in the overflow room, where some 60 of us watched. It didn’t feel like a situation where one needed to applaud, since Sedaris wasn’t there to hear it, but people clapped at times anyway in appreciation.
I attended a cultural event in LA on Monday, a public talk by Patti Smith, the rocker, interviewed onstage by Jonathan Lethem. I don’t know if he and I were the only two people from Claremont there, but we may have been. That leads off my Friday column. After that: three Valley Vignette items and two Culture Corner items — one of them about Shakespeare, two of whose plays are being performed locally this weekend.
Wednesday’s column starts with the news that humorist David Sedaris will speak Nov. 19 in Claremont. (His book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” is referenced in the headline.) After that: four Ontario items and two cultural items. And a note that I’m on vacation this week. Columns and regular posting here will resume next week.
Remember the Gallery Theatre? You might if you lived here sometime between 1967 and 1989. First in Upland and then, for 19 years, in Ontario, the theater had popular, family-friendly productions like “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Co-founder Mark Shipley recalls the times he had in an interview in my Friday column.
Dee Marcellus Cole is the subject of Sunday’s column, as I profile the visual artist who is very connected to downtown Pomona despite being a longtime Uplander. Above is Cole in her backyard; below, she’s with the mannequins on the roof mentioned in the column.
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.
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.
Below are his two best-known works, “Urban Light” and, at bottom, “Metropolis II.” A video of the latter can be seen here.
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)!