Quatorze juillet – California edition 1

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

Ideas & Opinion
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 · Ideas & Opinion
editor’s note: this post dating from 2008 is a golden-oldie of the blog and one of the first blog items we published. enjoy ~! 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 ...

I met Yves St. Laurent 2

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 the French bank, 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 ...

Bette Davis turns 100 years old 4

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

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 ...