Fly Away, Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

John Summers: As the armies of tolerance celebrate To Kill a Mockingbird–it’s the 50 anniversary this month—one is put in mind of a maxim by W.H. Auden: “You do not read a book,” Auden said. “A book reads you.”

Holy Wars: Putting the “Mental” into Fundamentalism

KK_protest

Ed Rampell: General Sherman, who burned Atlanta to the ground, rather famously and pithily said, “War is hell.” Stephen Marshall’s new documentary about religious fanaticism, Holy Wars, turns Sherman’s quote on its head with the clever tagline, “War is Heaven.”

America’s Cheesiest Charttoppers Redux

jenny from the block

Michael Sigman: Strong candidates for Part 2 included such stomach-churning charttoppers as Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs (no, you don’t, not even this one, which was penned by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston), Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman (no, you’re not) and Starship’s We Built This City on Rock and Roll (no, you most definitely did not).

Baseball Justice

Curt Flood, Marvin Miller

Peter Dreier: Major League Baseball’s corporate mentality, its failure to deal with widespread drug use, and its decline in popularity among America’s youth (more of whom now play soccer than Little League baseball), don’t reflect well on what its pooh-bahs still call the “national pastime.”

Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles: When Los Angeles Got No Respect

Norm's, La Cienega, on Fire, 1964, by Ed Ruscha

Randy Shaw: Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles addresses the art establishment’s diminishing of Los Angeles’ broader impact, and offers rare insight into the Los Angeles of the 1960’s and 70’s, though perhaps not greater appreciation for Ed Ruscha’s vision of the city.

40 Is the New 15: Don’t Trust Anyone Under 40

Craig Woolson Tod Macofsky Dana Meller Karole Foreman John Allsopp2

Ed Rampell: The new musical 40 is the New 15 has the distinction of being the first musical produced by the Academy for New Musical Theatre, while a workshop presentation of it was, deservedly, nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.

Bread and Circuses and Animal Rights

circus-stilts

Ed Rampell: I remember during small kid days the arrival of Ringling Bros.’ in New York, and the elephant march up one of Manhattan’s avenues – an irresistible photo op if ever there was one – to Madison Square Garden, where I’d join thousands of other “children of all ages” to watch the thrilling spectacle.

Movies Ignore Corporate Wrongdoers, Populist Messages

Angelina Jolie’s Salt

Randy Shaw: Many believe that Hollywood films provide escapist entertainment, and should not be seen as sending political messages. We are told that studios are about making money, and that they would make tribute films to Karl Marx if that were good for the box office. Well, the historic record and the films of 2010 say otherwise.

10 More That Shoulda Made The Top 10

Kirsty MacColl

Michael Sigman: Somewhere out there may be an Amerika identical to ours except for one thing: Great records that never made the pop charts on our shores — whether due to a twist of fate or a lack of payola — comprise the smash hits and timeless classics in that far-off realm.

Looking for an Echo: 10 That Shoulda Made The Top 10

Car;eme Carter

Michael Sigman: If the multiverse theory holds, there’s a land far, far away exactly like ours except that the following cuts — which never made it to American pop charts — would be as much a part of our musical DNA as the songs endlessly repeated in movies, oldies radio and commercials in our neck of the cosmological woods.

Did You Barbecue Pig or Pug This Fourth?

pug

Rev. Irene Monroe: The reason we eat cows, pigs, lamb, chickens, fish, and not dogs, cats, hamsters, and parakeets, according to Joy, is because our selective belief systems are supported by emotional and cultural responses that tell us some animals are edible while others are not.

LA Film Festival 2010: Freakonomics

freakonomics

Ed Rampell: Freakonomics is a great documentary adaptation of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s bestselling book that applies statistical and economics theory to various phenomena, finding extraordinary explanations and insights. Master documentarians direct various segments linked to interviews with the co-authors

LA Film Festival 2010: Night Catches Us

night catches us

Ed Rampell: Set in 1976 Philadelphia after the heyday of the Black Panther Party, this film noir-ish feature depicts the fallout involvement in the Black liberation cause has on ex-Panthers and others.

LA Film Festival 2010: One Lucky Elephant

one lucky elephant

Ed Rampell: Lisa Leeman’s documentary One Lucky Elephant is similar to the 1990s fact-based features Buddy and Gorillas in the Mist starring, respectively, Rene Russo and Sigourney Weaver, as humans living closely with wild animals. All three films study the paradigm of inter-species relationships.

LA Film Festival 2010: Space Tourists

space tourists

Ed Rampell: Today, due to the collapse of the USSR, the industry that put the first creatures and human into the cosmos has largely been reduced to providing Yankee billionaires with an extraterrestrial playground – for, of course, a fee: $20 million per launch.

LA Film Festival 2010: A Small Act

a small act

Ed Rampell: This beautiful, moving film goes on to show the eventual meeting(s) of Mburu and his benefactor, who had no idea a charity was named after her. Nor that this Holocaust survivor’s small act of generosity would enable Mburu to play a role in campaigning ethnic cleansing around the world as a U.N. international civil servant, including at his native Kenya.

Saving LA’s African Marketplace

los angeles african marketplace

Anthony Samad: The City of Los Angeles is trying to charge the festival over $180,000 to hold the African Marketplace for two weeks, in a public park. Now we know the City is having a hard time…but $180,000??? For what?

LA Film Festival 2010: Camera, Camera; Madagascar, A Journey Diary; Sylvester Stallone

Camera, Camera

Ed Rampell: This refreshingly formal elegance compliments Madagascar’s content, as a visitor is invited by Natives to witness and participate in some sort of indigenous rituals that have to do with something like raising the dead. The short reminded me a lot of my time in another French colony, Tahiti, in terms of its delightful ukulele-sounding music, “bizarre” (to outsiders’ eyes) customs, language, local people, etc.

LA Film Festival 2010: Dog Sweat

Hot_Dog

Ed Rampell: Readers may remember President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dubious remarks about gays at a Columbia University forum in 2007, and In Dog Sweat Keshavarz dares point his camera directly at the homosexual scene in Tehran, where same sex relationships are probably more controversial than gay marriage is here.

LA Film Festival 2010: Mahler on the Couch

mahler on the couch

Ed Rampell: Mahler On the Couch is co-written and co-directed by that rarity, a father and son team, Percy (1987’s Bagdad Cafe) and Felix Adlon. Their German language movie reminds me of 1976’s The Seven-Percent- Solution based on Nicholas Meyer’s novel about Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) being treated by Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin).

Not Just Another Cliche Thriller: Just Another Cliche Beginning

private eye

Mike Price: Like I said, dark and stormy with thunder pounding out a maniacal back-beat under the fierce snap-crackling of lightning that slammed against the Truckee River like a homicidal laser beam stabbing through dead-weight Indian-summer air, so screw you, Mrs. Randall, English Composition 101, who said run-on sentences don’t work.

LA Film Festival 2010: Farewell, My Lovely

farewell

Ed Rampell: Mensink said it took her up to 13 years to make what she called a “puzzle” of a film, piecing together the jigsaw motion picture pieces of found footage, including shots from only one feature film, Dirigible, a 1931 thriller made by none other than Frank Capra.

“Los Angels” at LAFilm Festival, Friday, 25 June: Director Thomas Napper Illuminates Skid Row

Linda Milazzo: Serendipitously, perhaps even miraculously, a second movie had been made; a documentary originally titled THE CHORUS as a take-off on THE SOLOIST, that was now titled LOST ANGELS. It was an expose dedicated entirely to Skid Row and to the extras employed on THE SOLOIST. Joe Wright was an Executive Producer. Susan Klos, author of the above email, who’d read my article, was a Co-Executive Producer, and Thomas Napper, a long-time associate of Joe Wright, lovingly and patiently directed.

Carmen Miranda, The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat

Carmen Miranda

Ed Rampell: Here’s your Miranda warning: You have the right to be charmed, beguiled and to go bananas during the Hollywood stage production of Carmen Miranda, The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat. Magi Avila incarnates the 1940s dancing and singing sensation of stage, screen and nightclubs who personified Latin America for a generation of U.S. audiences.

To My Father

Marty Williams (aka "Daddy") and Aunt Rose

Sharon Kyle: Today is the day we honor our fathers. Many would say I’ve chosen a peculiar way to honor mine. I won’t be having dinner with him. In fact, I will not see him today even though he lives 60 miles away. I will be in a class all day – a California bar review class – as I prepare to take the California Bar Exam. I am a middle-aged woman who has had three major jobs and is now beginning a fourth as a people’s lawyer (after passing the bar) and my father is one of the biggest reasons I push myself the way I do.

Carl Sandburg’s Wisdom through Humor

carl sandburg

Walter G. Moss: Wise person that he was, Sandburg saw that life is both a comedy and tragedy, containing vibrant life and sad death, the beautiful and the ugly, the wise and the foolish, moments of transcendence and ones of banality. As the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes says (and Sandburg admirer Pete Seeger later adapted for his folk song “Turn, Turn, Turn”)

Thou Shalt Not Abridge

til death

Mike Price: If they really want laughs, Fox TV should use the stars of their cable “news” sister, Fox Voice Of Limbaugh, to do a remake of the Three Stooges with Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck, and that self-styled, “Great American,” Sean Hannity.

Flight of the Bumblepeanut (An American Saga)

chez jay

Mike Price: Many other L.A. saloons (let’s face it, they’re ALL saloons) have enjoyed a healthy share of celebrity. Scandia. The Cock ‘n Bull. The Ming Room…all successful, all popular, and all gone. Only a very few well-known bistros prospered until they became the stuff of legends. Among those is Chez Jay’s.

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