Strom’s socialist singspiel soothes Sunday’s squally storms 1

Music
No better way to  pass a rainy Sunday afternoon than a concert at the Workman’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Los Angeles. There, the cultural anthropologist and klezmer guy, Yale Strom, his string bass player Mark Dresser, and the sultry songstress Elizabeth Schwartz presented a program of socialist-themed Yiddish music. Strom, a torrid fiddler, is deeply steeped ...

What a guy! Ehrich Weiss, a.k.a. Harry Houdini

Language & ideas · Theater
The absolutely fabulous “Houdini: Art and Magic,” which opens tomorrow at the Skirball Center along with its equally wonderful companion show, “Masters of Illusion, Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age,” injects fun, mystery and gamesmanship into the ether — right when we need it most. Jewish guys dressed in turbans and tuxedos, waving wands, and ...

Harry Houdini, who he? See: Skirball Center

Visual arts
Houdini: Art and Magic, coming soon to the Skirball Cultural Center, traces magician and escape artist Harry Houdini’s evolution from fledgling circus performer in the 1890s, to stage magician at the turn of the twentieth century, to star of stage and film. Featuring more than 150 artifacts, the exhibition illuminates Houdini’s compelling story through historical ...

Julius Garfinkle’s integrity 5

Film
Blacklisted actor John Garfield, né Julius Garfinkle, was the subject of a curtain talk at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following a screening of the enthralling boxing film, Body and Soul (1947), part of the Academy’s screenwriter-driven film noir series. Garfield’s unswerving dignity as a Jewish boxer (improbably named Charlie Davis) dominates ...

Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner, still kings of comedy 1

Film
“We didn’t know if they were after Communists, Jews, or just short people.” With that great one-liner, Mel Brooks, the funniest man in the world, defuses – no, ridicules – the McCarthy hearings and blacklist that terrorized the entertainment industry in the early 1950s. Together with his longtime friend and indispensable straight-man, Carl Reiner, Mel ...

Skirball’s “Get down, Moses” listening party

Language & ideas · Music
The “listening party” — a groovy event in which cultural anthropologist Josh Kun spins discs to illustrate the complex historic relationship between African-American and Jewish popular music — had serious naming issues. Kun launched it as “Black Sabbath.” It got changed to “Go Down, Moses.” Then, some genius in the Skirball Center p.r. department tweaked ...

BODYTRAFFIC & Barak Marshall fete Israel’s 62nd 1

Dance · Music · Reviews
Haim Saban, the expatriate Israeli entrepreneur who made a bundle in the 1990s manufacturing Power Rangers, threw an amazing and generous party for L.A.’s Jewish community to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaoot, Israel Independence Day, at his newly refurbished Saban (formerly the Wilshire) Theater. Everything nifty about Israeli culture — its youth, high energy, optimism, talent to ...

Leonard Bernstein meets Sharon Farber @ Pacific Serenades

Music
I’m looking forward to “Mixed Up World,” the aptly titled upcoming performance by Pacific Serenades. I wrote previously on arts•meme about the 24-year-old chamber music society’s premiere of a work by jazz pianist Billy Childs. Pacific Serenades’ mission is to present newly commissioned chamber works alongside standard repertoire in intimate concert settings. Here’s an impressive list ...

Hitler’s emigres & exiles in Southern California 1

Language & ideas · Music
Prominently marked in my calendar for February 16 is a book talk at the L.A. Central Library’s ALOUD series by my friend Dorothy Lamb Crawford. Dorothy, a musicologist whom I met at the Ballets Russes centenial celebration in Boston last year, writes about the brilliant gathering of composers, conductors, and other musicians who fled Nazi Germany to ...

Herb Alpert, local hero 8

Music
Herb Alpert was born in Los Angeles in 1935 and he lives here still. His father, a Russian Jew from Kiev, was a tailor. His mother, of Hungarian descent, encouraged his music, giving him a trumpet on his eighth birthday. Alpert grew up in Fairfax district, the second Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles after Boyle ...