Jimi Hendrix hung out in Los Feliz 1

Fashion · Music
Urban legend has it that after a druggy night at a hippie crash pad in Los Feliz, Jimi Hendrix composed “Purple Haze.” According to the story, Hendrix was inspired by a psychedelicly painted bathroom.  The erstwhile hippie house — now a designer’s emporium and yet another L.A. real estate event — sits atop a hill overlooking my apartment building. That means that ...

Quatorze juillet – California edition 1

Film
We passed the la fete nationale, Bastille Day, as follows:  We attended a great LACMA double-bill featuring the suave, yet underrated, French film actor, Charles Boyer. C’etait vendredi, that was Friday. We then flew to San Francisco on Sunday and enjoyed a cafe creme and pain au chocolat at Cafe de la Presse. Vive la France.

Girl Power 2

Dance · Film
The home-run event of the summer was Howard Hawks’s comic masterpiece, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), projected on the humongous screen of the vintage Los Angeles Theater (1931) on Broadway in downtown L.A. Viewed as oversized fleshy Amazons whose umpteen parts miraculously move together, MM and Jane Russell cruise through this nutty film, singing, dancing, and ...

Jewish geography

Language & ideas
I immensely enjoyed Jewish Geography, the festival of ideas — and shmoozing — held on the UCLA campus Sunday. The festival posed difficult questions that trouble diaspora Jews, especially we Americans who survived the genocide of Europe and who evade the current mess in Israel. I most enjoyed the panel “Things Past: Memory & Space,” confronting such profound questions as: How do ...

Debra Winger asks, “Do you know what a meme is?” 1

Film · Language & ideas
I went to see Debra Winger give a book talk (she wrote one) at the Los Angeles Central Library Wednesday night. I’ve always liked Debra Winger’s performances, especially in three films: Shadowlands, The Sheltering Sky, and Terms of Endearment.  Image above is from Bernardo Bertolucci’s sumptuously cinematographic “Sheltering Sky.” In the book talk, Debra Winger described how much she ...

I met Yves St. Laurent 2

Fashion
The death of fashion designer Yves St. Laurent June 1 reminded me of the time I met him in Beijing. The year was 1985. I was working for Banque Paribas, based in Hong Kong. During one of my business trips to Beijing, the French cultural commission staged a retrospective of Yves St. Laurent’s haute couture. This fashion expo ...

Bette Davis turns 100 years old 4

Film
To celebrate the occasion, we attended a LACMA double-bill of two of Davis’s late-career outings (post-All About Eve and pre-Baby Jane). We watched in morbid fascination the divine Ms. D chomp both the scenery and her hunky co-star, Sterling Hayden, in The Star. Davis plays a washed-up movie celeb who tries, fails, and ultimately succeeds ...

Los Angeles Philharmonic: Adieu, Esa-Pekka Salonen! 6

Music
Friday night I watched Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct the LA Phil for perhaps my last time. Esa has had a huge impact on my life, as I entered the symphony world under his tutelage. He is retiring as the Phil’s conductor after this season. Renowned for his special touch with 20th century music, he conducted Stravinsky and ...