Sunday, April 30, 2006

Truth And Consequences

Playwright Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" -- his first hit on Broadway when it came out shortly after WWII -- is currently running at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. I saw it this afternoon.

Boy, this show sure packs a wallop. It deals with war profiteering and father and son issues (as only Miller can portray them.)

The brilliant cast is led by Len Cariou, Neil Patrick Harris and Laurie Metcalf.

This one is a must see -- bring your hankie.
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All Aboard!

Had an outstanding dinner last night at Traxx, a restaurant downtown at Union Station.
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The weather was a little cool but very nice, so we had dinner on the outdoor patio at TraxxPosted by Picasa

This is just inside the main entrance doors at Union StationPosted by Picasa

The lovely exterior of Union StationPosted by Picasa

This is the old Ticket Lobby at Union Station. Now it's only used for special events and filming. Posted by Picasa

The only problem with dinner on the patio was this security guard coughing up a lung. I finally yelled at him, "we're eating over here!" Posted by Picasa

This is the beautiful Main Concourse at Union StationPosted by Picasa

When I moved to Washington, DC in 1985 I went by train. This is the spot where about 30 friends and family gathered for a going away party. Posted by Picasa

After dinner GeezBob and I went to see "The Black Rider" at the Ahmanson Theater.

I missed this show when it ran in San Francisco in 2004 so I was excited about seeing it last night.

It's very avant garde -- somewhere between a play and a musical with a text by William S. Burroughs, music and lyrics by Tom Waits and direction, sets and lighting by Robert Wilson.

Visually stunning, it's an old German fable about an accountant who wants to marry a girl whose father wants her to marry a hunter. He makes a faustian deal with the Devil in exchange for bullets that always hit their target.

As the House Manager told me when we were chatting during intermission, the show "isn't to everyone's taste," but I liked it because it was so shockingly original. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pretty Bizarre

Matthew Barney makes these very strange visual arts movies. Tonight I saw his latest one, "Drawing Restraint 9," on which he collaborated with his significant other, Bjork -- she did the music and co-starred.

To me, his movies are much more about beautiful images on the screen than they are about the plot. But I can't figure out how to describe the images.

Not that the plot is much easier, but here goes: a man (Barney) and a woman (Bjork) go aboard a Japanese whaling ship (the real-life Nisshin Maru) where they are married in a Shinto Wedding Ceremony after an elaborate tea ceremony and then they begin flensing each other after they develop blowholes -- in the meantime the ship's crew brings aboard an enormous whale shaped fossil and they perform a ceremony around it and then lower it below the deck where it disintegrates and finally the crew dismantles a large container of whale blubber and it loses its shape on the deck.

Weird enough for you?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pity Party -- Row 26

I spent this morning in Sacramento for work and this afternoon in San Mateo for an Executive Committee meeting of the Junior Statesmen Foundation.

On my flight home tonight to LAX I was seated in the very last row of the airplane. As I slunk my way to Row 26 I consoled myself by thinking about the opportunity to tackle this giant stack of newspapers I was carrying onto the flight.

As soon as the plane took off my reading light went out. 150 seats on the plane and I have to be stuck in the one without a light. Every few minutes it would come on for about 45 seconds. Just long enough for me to pull up the newspaper, find the article I was reading, figure out where I left off and -- whamo -- it would go dark again!

As soon as we landed the light came on again for good. Great, a light on an airplane that doesn't work in the air.

I was the last person off the plane carrying my suitcase, briefcase, umbrella and four days worth of newspapers.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Don't I Know You?

An attendant on my flight tonight to Sacramento recognized me from a previous flight. I asked her how she remembered me. She said the last time I was on one of her flights I was carrying a giant stack of newspapers and ordered a screwdriver -- just like tonight.

I explained that sometimes I get behind (on the newspapers, not the screwdrivers). She said I said the same thing last time too.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Security Breach!

After my meeting in San Francisco's Financial District I needed to return to my hotel near Fishermen's Wharf. So how did I go? On a Cable Car, of course.

I know it's cheesy and touristy -- but it's also a lot of fun. So sue me.

Tonight I flew home to LAX from SFO. Just after I passed through the security machines but while I was still gathering up my things an alarm went off throughout the terminal, "Security Breach! Security Breach! Security Breach!"

The TSA Agents scrambled and sealed those of us in the Security Area off from the Terminal. Interestingly, everyone walking through the Terminal came to a halt. They all just sort of froze. And everyone I could see simple reacted with the recognition that this is the world we live in now.

After a couple of minutes the "All Clear" signal came and we were released from our pen and life went on. On my way out of the Security Area I said to a TSA Agent, as I often do, "Thanks for keeping us safe."
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Organ Grinder Day(s)

The last two days have been a blur!

I spent most of yesterday listening to organ music in one form or another.

First I went to Dodger Stadium to watch the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks. Nancy B. Hefly -- the Dodger Stadium organist -- was on-hand, as always, to entertain the crowd. I like the way she uses her enormous catalog of music to make wry commentaries on the game.

For instance, one of the guys at today's game pointed out that on Monday night when it was raining and the Dodgers were trailing the Cubs she played "Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down." So that one was pretty easy to understand.

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Sunday was the 30th anniversary of when Dodgers Broadcaster Rick Monday (then playing for the Cubs) grabbed an American flag away from two protestors who were trying to light it on fire in the Dodger Stadium outfield during a game. Monday threw out the first pitch. Posted by Picasa

Here's a not-so-great photo of Nancy B. Hefly playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch.
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After the ballgame Sunday I caught up with GeezBob for dinner and then we went to an organ concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

John Scott played the Concert Hall's massive organ. Scott was long associated with St. Paul's Cathedral in London. In 2004 he moved to New York to become the Director of Music and Organist at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue.

The acoustics in the Disney Concert Hall continue to impress for their perfection. From where I was sitting you could watch his fingers on the four keyboards and hear the distinct notes in the room. Of course, the most fun was watching him play the pedals. A couple of times he just rested his hands on the bench and played the music with his feet. Some of the pieces he performed included a low bass and you could feel the vibrations in your bones.

In the photo at the top of today's entry you'll notice a simple black chair next to the organ. That's for the guy who has the job of turning the pages on the music. With four keyboards and foot pedals, the organist can't be bothered.

But my Sunday wasn't done! From the concert I headed to LAX for a 10:30 p.m. flight to Sacramento for a meeting this morning. I was seated next to State Senator (and candidate for Secretary of State) Debra Bowen. We had a delightful chat on topics ranging from her campaign and the upcoming Democratic Convention, to how I got involved in initiative campaigns to which is more entertaining: college football or college basketball.

After my meeting today in Sacramento I learned I need to be in San Francisco for a meeting Tuesday morning. So instead of flying home I changed my travel plans and drove to San Francisco where I'm spending tonight.

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Since my trip to San Francisco came up on such short notice I made a hotel reservation while I was driving there. A new hotel recently opened, the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, and I was excited at the prospect of staying there for the first time.

Imagine my disappointment when I pulled up and I realized I'd stayed there already -- when I was 13 -- when it was the Chinatown Holiday Inn!

But Hilton clearly has done a very nice job of fixing it up so I decided to go forward. As you can see from the photo above my room had a lovely view of Coit Tower.

Too bad the internet access in the room didn't work. And after two hours of trying to get it to work it was time to CHECK OUT!

I moved to the Hilton Fishermen's Wharf, where I've stayed many times. And as soon as I got to my room I fired up my laptop and the internet connection worked without any problem. The other Hilton is nicer, but that's pointless if I can't use my laptop for work (and blogging). (And taking pity on me, the Hilton Fishermen's Wharf put me in a suite so I'm in a pretty good mood about the whole episode.)
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Never Forget

"iWitness" is a very gripping play currently running at the Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. I saw it tonight.

It tells the true story of Franz Jagerstatter who was executed for his refusal to serve in Hitler's army. Born in Austria, Jagerstatter was the only person in his village to vote against the unifying of Austria with Nazi Germany after Hitler's troops moved into their country.

In 1939 he was drafted into the military and, after many delays, was called into active duty in February, 1943. His refusal to fight for the Nazis landed him in prison and ultimately he was beheaded.

Not exactly a musical comedy.

The play explores making the ultimate sacrifice for what you know is right as well as how average Germans looked the other way while the evidence of the Nazi's killing machine was all around them. The haunting sound of trains is heard throughout the show.

It was particularly poignant to see this play tonight since a good friend of mine -- a Holocaust Survivor -- left on a trip to Europe on Thursday with plans to visit some former sites of Nazi concentration camps.
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Cheryl Hines threw out the first pitch tonight at Dodger Stadium. She was promoting her new movie, "RV" also starring Robin Williams.

It was a pretty good pitch and she seemed shocked that the Dodgers catcher let her keep the ball. I guess she's been hanging around Larry David too long.

The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 6 to 3, but they remain at less than .500 on the season having won 8 and lost 9 games (with 145 games to go in the season).
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Si, Se Puede

"Our Brand is Crisis" is a fascinating documentary about American political consultants' --- Greenberg Carville Shrum -- involvement in the Bolivian election in 2002. I saw it tonight in Santa Monica.

The American consultants worked for "Gino," a former President of Bolivia in the 90s seeking a return to office. They ran a campaign based on the theme Bolivia was "in crisis" and Gino was the candidate to get the country through the crisis.

I suppose what happened falls under the category of "be careful what you wish for" because Gino barely won the election and the "crisis" continued to grow to the point where he was forced to resign and flee the country.

Ultimately Evo Morales -- the first campesino to be President of Bolivia -- took office. He's been a major thorn in the Bush Administration's side in Latin America. He's also received notice for refusing to wear a tie in office, instead sticking to a simple striped sweater.

The American Ambassador to Bolivia comes off looking like a fool for hot-footing it into the 2002 election by comparing Morales to Osama bin Laden.

I thought the American political consultants, including James Carville, seemed like pretty reasonable guys in the film. But perhaps I'm a little biased -- the guy sitting behind me actually cussed out one of the consultants near the end of the movie.

The footage of political rallies in Bolivia was very impressive. Thousands and thousands of people waving rally flags and chanting, "si, se puede." Although I suppose that could have been filmed in downtown Los Angeles -- but that's a whole different topic.
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While I was in Santa Monica I had a nice, casual dinner at the Broadway Deli on the Third Street Promenade. I bumped into my friend and fellow Junior Statesmen Boardmember James Lee and we had a nice chat. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Trend Spotting

Cream Puffs are back! (Actually, I'm not sure if they were ever "in.")

Beard Papa -- a popular chain in Japan -- has opened at Hollywood & Highland. All they sell is cream puffs. Fresh cream puffs with the cream injected right before your very eyes.

These CPs are good and not very expensive either.

When a Beard Papa opens near you remember where you read about it first!
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Oh, No You Didn't

It's certainly not the subtlest movie I've ever seen, but I enjoyed seeing "Phat Girlz" tonight starring Mo'Nique as a big girl trying to fit into a stickgirl world.

Ironically, several scenes in the movie were filmed in the mall where I watched it -- the Century City Mall.

I especially liked it when Mo'Nique went off on the skinny witches who tormented her.

Monday, April 17, 2006

These Boots Weren't Exactly Made for Walking

Saw a fun movie tonight called "Kinky Boots." It's about a staid shoe factory in England faced with going out of business. In order to stay open the company's owner decides to make shoes for a niche market -- specifically drag queens.

The themes of tolerance and self-acceptance are well presented as is the importance of a good steel shank when building a stiletto heel that'll hoist a lot of weight.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yeah, That's the Ticket

I know it looks like I photoshopped myself into this picture -- but I didn't. Jon Lovitz was sitting one row behind me at today's Dodgers game and when I asked to take his picture he insisted on only doing it if I was in the picture. So he was one row back and I sort of leaned in.

I think it's rude when someone around me plays their radio broadcasting the game at Dodger Stadium. I regularly ask them if they "have an earphone." But for some reason, since Lovitz is a celebrity, I didn't object to his blaring radio. My friends gladly pointed out my hypocrisy.

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Finally, good weather for a baseball game. Posted by Picasa

Good to see Uncle Fester is back for another season. Posted by Picasa