John Waters celebrates Johnny Mathis

Film · Language & ideas · Music
Sixties singer Johnny Mathis‘s name has popped up in surprising ways recently. DJ Josh Kun spun the velvet-voiced crooner’s version of “Kol Nidre” at “Get Down, Moses,” Kun’s Jewish/African-American “listening party.” Then, John Waters, the witty, loquacious, and dapper film director, cited Mathis as one of his key “role models.” It happened at an ALOUD ...

merce misha mashup 2

Dance · Visual arts
“Farewell Merce Cunningham Dance Company” weekend in Los Angeles was capped by a bonus performance in which Mikhail Baryshnikov appeared with the company. It was a fundraiser for the Cunningham Dance Foundation’s “Legacy Project” and REDCAT. Charles Atlas, with whom the choreographer collaborated on multiple video projects over thirty years, presented his film homage to Merce — ...

Merce’s marvelous Irish jig 3

Dance · Reviews
Co-published on Huffington Post arts page “It was unutterably moving to watch,” said long time company archivist David Vaughan of the historic reconstruction of “Roaratorio” (1983) that graced Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s fare-thee-well performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall this weekend. “We all feel Merce in the dance.” Indeed, watching company elder Robert Swinston, 60, ...

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 ...

The satin sound of Johnny Mercer

Language & ideas · Music
While I was recovering from knee surgery, my buddy S.V. brought me recuperation DVDs — among them “The Dream’s On Me,” documentarian Bruce Ricker’s film homage to lyricist/composer Johnny Mercer. [The documentary, executive-produced by Clint Eastwood, airs from time to time on TCM.] Mercer, a tireless music maker of the highest order (by the way, ...

John Waters & Carrie Fisher dish at ALOUD 1

Film · Language & ideas
This just in from Louise Steinman, curator-turned-impresario of the Library Foundation’s ALOUD book talk series. Louise has nailed down what promises to be a wild and wonderful evening of conversation Filmmaker John Waters communes with his interlocutor, Carrie Fisher. Two of show business’s sharpest minds (and fastest tongues!) meet to discuss their role models! John ...

Robert Ryan fan club 2

Film
arts·meme, when she is not kvelling on symphony or ballet, is a fan girl. She has favorite movie actors. The male contingent includes Ralph Fiennes, early Peter Saarsgard, early Tim Roth, and the red-headed Briton, Damien Lewis. But why oh why was the great b-movie guy, Robert Ryan, heavily featured in LACMA’s recent series on the cinematography ...

Patrick Graham’s patch of earth 1

Visual arts
Patrick Graham SOMEWHERE JERUSALEM, 1996 oil and mixed media on canvas, 72 x 140 inches “My first memory of drawing was as a child and I remember people talking about me,” said Irish artist Patrick Graham at a crowded art talk hosted by his long time representative, Jack Rutberg, at Rutberg’s La Brea Avenue gallery. ...

Neil Greenberg chats about Roaratorio

Dance
“You really see people dancing. It’s especially clear that this was a concern of Merce’s. There’s a lot of humanity in this work.” Thus choreographer Neil Greenberg remembers Roaratorio, the Merce Cunningham work dating from 1983 that will be restaged at Disney Concert Hall next weekend.  A member of Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1979 ...

arts·meme enters the terrible twos 2

Language & ideas
“You should be blogging,” my brother Mark first said to me sometime around 2005. I succumbed on May 24, 2008 when arts·meme went live — with Mark’s excellent tech support. Then he started saying, “You should be tweeting.” Okay, enough is enough! Inspired by a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, I ...