Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tales of two SoCal bookstores.

Thanks to Kevin Roderick of LA OBSERVED (a Los Angeles media website) for including this link to an article on the upcoming demise of Long Beach's Acres of Books in a recent column of his: http://www.presstelegram.com/search/ci_10009704

In Los Feliz, the thriving business of Skylight Books (formerly Chatterton's for those of a certain age) is expanding its space into the building next door.

I was in the store yesterday and noticed a paucity of certain kinds of poetry.  To use a baseball analogy, the store carries some major leaguers, but gives little space to the farm teams (some may become the "major" poets of future years).

Here's a letter I wrote to Kerry Slattery, the manager:

Hi Kerry,
 
This letter is intended to politely address an imbalance that you can help correct via the representation of Los Angeles poetry in Skylight Books.
 
I was at your store yesterday and bought a couple of poetry books by S.A. Griffin and Ron Koertge.  Upon looking at the selection of zines and chapbooks, I've noticed that a lot of work by Los Angeles' poetry community is unavailable. 
 
Ideally, there should be a more wide-ranging selection of self-published chapbooks, fledgling small-press books and poetry anthologies (the latest compilation of Valley Contemporary Poets and recent collections of Marie Lecrivain's POETIC DIVERSITY come to mind).
 
With the closing of Duttons Brentwood and the sporadic hours of the Beyond Baroque bookstore, there aren't that many places for local poets to have their work sold.
 
And, with too-high gasoline prices, the audiences for readings (where chapbooks, small presses and anthologies are often sold) are not what they have been in the past.
 
I'm aware that you have standards regarding what or what not to choose for sale at Skylight.  But it would be ever so kind of you to highlight newer and up-and-coming L.A./OC poets who haven't yet received exposure at the store.
 
Thanks so much for your attention in this matter.
 
Sincerely,
Terry McCarty
 
 
 
 



 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

SALON's Andrew O'Hehir interviews filmmaker Courtney Hunt (FROZEN RIVER).

I saw the film FROZEN RIVER with Melissa Leo and Misty Upham about a week ago and recommend it highly as a drama nondependent on CGI and whirling Steadicam (it opens this Friday in select theaters).

Here's a link to SALON critic Andrew O'Hehir's interview with the writer/director Courtney Hunt: http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/btm/?last_story=/ent/movies/btm/feature/2008/07/30/frozen_river/

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES TIMES on San Francisco poet August Kleinzahler.

Here's a link to a recent LOS ANGELES TIMES article on San Francisco's sometimes-impatient-with-literary-poetry-icons poet August Kleinzahler: http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-me-sfpoet28-2008jul28,0,4537015.story

[Thanks to Northern California poet Garrett Murphy for forwarding me the article.]

Sidebar: There may be one area of poetics that Kleinzahler and Billy Collins may agree on: the tendency of academia (or workshops) to homogenize poetry.  Collins, in a recent appearance at the Skirball Center in West L.A., alluded to the workshopping trend in question-and-answer remarks after his reading.

Sidebar #2: If Kleinzahler ever decides to move to Los Angeles, he'd become an instant pariah.

 

Jon Voight's conservative talking points.

With the exceptions of supporting roles in Michael Mann films (HEAT, ALI), Jon Voight has methodically undone his once-sterling reputation as one of the most gifted actors of his generation (MIDNIGHT COWBOY, DELIVERANCE, CONRACK, COMING HOME).

And it's sad to see him regurgitating Republican talking points for THE WASHINGTON TIMES: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jul/28/voight/

Even Charlton Heston at his most vituperative could write better political prose than Voight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Teaser trailer for Oliver Stone's W.

The official teaser trailer for Oliver Stone's George W. Bush docudrama W. is now on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyDvUwRalXY&eurl=http://www.dlisted.com/

Whether or not W will equal the commercial success of Stone's peak years of 1987-91 is an open guess.  But the fighting over the validity and/or truthfulness of Stone's take on George Butch, Jr. is only beginning.

On Shia LaBeouf's current troubles.

Here's the AOL snark link to Shia LaBeouf: The Beef Is Sauced! DUI Bust for LaBeouf

And here's a poem I wrote about him a couple of months ago:

shya lebuff

 

inside you’re john lennon

but they want you to be paul mccartney

 

spielberg depends on you

paramount depends on you

michael bay really depends on you

 

you know the laws of show business by heart:

be reliable and don’t make your coworkers nervous

 

remember to not be rude to your fans

 

and tell megan fox hello for me when you’re

on the set of transformers two

 

Friday, July 25, 2008

BEYOND BAROQUE chapbook archive: remembering the living, the dead, etc. etc.

Here's a link to the (obviously not recently updated) BEYOND BAROQUE chapbook archive: http://www.beyondbaroque.org/archive/index.htm

There, you will see chapbooks, their authors and the approximate publishing dates. 

Given the self-imposed limitations of the scene, this may be the only way that future generations will know of some of the poets listed in the archive.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Young Turks' Cenk Uygur on Bush's comments on economy to the have-mores.

Here's a link via HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE to Young Turk Cenk Uygur taking a little over nine minutes to deconstruct George Butch Jr.'s recent caught-unawares speech in Houston--and the effect that all the bailouts of unregulated financial giants have on the American economy: http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2008/07/astute_analysis.php

Random notes: Katie Couric, BEYOND BAROQUE and the end of book review sections in newspapers.

1.  A familiar technique in TV journalism is to keep asking a question you want answered regardless of what the interviewee is saying.  Chris Matthews did this the other day on HARDBALL when he kept throwing cues at Trent Lott (exhumed from obscurity to carry water for John McCain) to dis George Butch Jr. on-camera.  Here's a link to Jason Linkins' HUFFINGTON POST article describing Katie Couric's attempts to hector Barack Obama into adopting the "the surge worked" conventional wisdom re Iraq: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/23/katie-couric-to-obama-peo_n_114520.html

2. On the Los Angeles literary front, it looks like Beyond Baroque is in trouble again--its new lease apparently doesn't extend to the theater area where local and national poets and writers come to perform.  Here's a link to T.J. Sullivan's LA OBSERVED column: http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2008/07/beyond_baroque_in_another_bind.php

(Update 7/24/08) T.J. has updated his earlier piece; apparently Beyond Baroque is faced with the possibility of sharing its theater space with LA Theater Works.  Here's a link to LOS ANGELES TIMES blogger Veronique Turenne's take on what's happening: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2008/07/another-beyond.html  And here's another update: a letter from Concilman Bill Rosendahl's office:

Hello everyone:

And thank you for contacting the office of your Councilman. 

To clarify, the Councilman is moving forward with an extended lease for
Beyond Baroque.  And yes, that would include utilization of the Theater.
However, as some of you know there are two community based
organizations that utilize 681 Venice Boulevard:  LA Theater Works and
Beyond Baroque.  What the Councilman is seeking is a joint use agreement
so both agencies can have access and utilize all parts of the building
for the benefit of the entire community.

LA Theater Works has offered to make more community workshops available
for youth and all parties interested in participating.  This additional
use would require the sharing of the theater space.  I'm sure no could
argue that maximum utilization of the entire building is a benefit.  So
therefore, by ensuring that both agencies share responsibilities, the
entire community will benefit.  Both our poets and actors.

While the signing of this lease has not occurred in as efficient a
manner as the Councilman has hoped, he is committed to not only getting
it signed, but  that 681 Venice Boulevard will be a true community
facility.  By ensuring that two community based organizations are
committed to offering on going programs, the Councilman is positive that
both agencies will thrive hand in hand with the community.

Again, thank you contacting the Office of your Councilman, and feel
free to contact me should you have any other questions.

Sincerely,

Arturo PiƱa
Office of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl

3. One more Los Angeles literary issue: there's a lot of open-throated wailing over THE LOS ANGELES TIMES' decision to kill the Book Review section in favor of tacking a page or so of book coverage to the Sunday Calendar.  Here's an article (which I first discovered via an e-mail from Dave Marsh's ROCK AND RAP CONFIDENTIAL) about the decline of book reviews in newspapers ordered to cut expenses:

from Publisher's Lunch:
 
Newspapers and Books: How Far We've Fallen
It was just over a year ago that the NBCC was able to rally people outside the offices of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on behalf of Teresa Weaver after her job as book editor was eliminated. Weaver didn't get rehired by the paper but at least a point was made. Now, with deep staff and coverage cuts at newspapers all across the country, the people who cover books and the slim pages that carried their work are all but marked for extinction. The reorganization at the Tribune Company is remaking such papers as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, Orlando Sentinel, Baltimore Sun and South Florida Sun-Sentinel into considerably smaller versions. The latest announced layoff with respect to books is Hartford Courant books editor since 2002 Carole Goldberg. (The paper's pages are being reduced by twenty-five percent.)

Yesterday former LAT Book Review editors Steve Wasserman, Sonja Bolle, Digby Diehl, and Jack Miles circulated a letter that has gotten some pick-up, but in today's environment it reads more as an obituary than a rallying cry:
"As former editors of the Los Angeles Times Book Review (1975 through 2005), we are dismayed and troubled at the decision by Sam Zell and his managers to cease publishing the paper's Sunday Book Review.

"This step signals the end of an era begun 33 years ago when Otis Chandler, then the paper's publisher and owner, announced the debut of the weekly section.  Since then, the growth of the Los Angeles metropolitan region and the avidity of its numerous readers and writers has been palpable.  For example, every year since its founding in 1996, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has attracted upwards of 140,000 people to the UCLA campus from all walks of life throughout Southern California.  Four hundred writers from all over America typically participate. The written word is celebrated.  It is the most significant civic event undertaken by the Los Angeles Times to deepen literacy and to strengthen the bond between its news coverage and its far-flung community of readers.  But without the Book Review itself, the book festival will be a hollow joke.

"The dismantling of the Sunday Book Review section and the migration of a few surviving reviews to the Sunday Calendar section represents a historic retreat from the large ambitions which accompanied the birth of the section."
See the rest of the letter (and postcomments) here
Tribune competitor Teresa Budasi covered the letter on Chicago Sun-Times blog, but added this: "As a book editor who's been through the process of losing a section and being downsized in another, I sympathize withthem. But wake up, people! The fiscal health of the newspaper business was in the toilet long before they decided to ax a section. Now is the time to take what you're left with and do what you can with it. Just as the newspaper business as a whole is trying to figure out ways to reinvent itself, book review editors must do the same, whether it be by running shorter reviews, beefing up online content or what have you. Stop complaining about loss of culture and glorifying the past and move into the 21st century -- where books are still plenty and people are still reading!"
 
                                                                    www.rockrap.com

 

Monday, July 21, 2008

RIP: AT THE MOVIES WITH EBERT AND ROEPER

The Walt Disney Company has decided to end Roger Ebert's long-running movie reviews show in its present form and go in a "new direction."

Here's a link to Ebert's announcement: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080721/FEATURED/150028057

And here's a more "official" article which mentions Richard Roeper's departure as well: http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/TV/07/21/people.roeper.ap/index.html

For its flaws (more apparent after Ebert left the show due to health problems and Roeper--more a cold-blooded businessman/fake "personality" who saw film reviewing as a means to an end rather than either a vocation or avocation--became dominant), Ebert's show (which I first saw on PBS in 1978 with the late great Gene Siskel as the other critic) was a means of broadening the exposure to film criticism beyond just magazines and newspaper columns.  Numerous "imitation" shows followed in its wake, with critic/reviewers varying in quality from intellectual Neal Gabler to blurbmeisters like Jeffrey Lyons.

Now, with the Hollywood mindset being "we can make a bad/poorly executed movie that grosses hundreds of millions just like HANCOCK", The Walt Disney Company may see a market for a show that offers clips plus soft press kit "profiles" without any actual reviewing.

So, prepare for something like AT THE MOVIES WITH KELLY RIPA AND MARK CONSUELOS.

Update (7/22/08): Thankfully, I was wrong with the above prediction.  Instead, Disney will keep the same format but with younger and cheaper hosts--Ben Mankiewicz (of the famous Hollywood dynasty--screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz was his grandfather) and Ben Lyons (son of blurbmeister Jeffrey).  Allegedly, Ben Lyons claims that I AM LEGEND was a "great" film--so it's safe to say that he's ready to give overpraise to just about every mainstream piece of merde like his father or late-career David Sheehan.

Here's a link to Nikki Finke's announcement of the AT THE MOVIES reboot on DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY: http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/contract-disputes-end-ebert-roeper-show/

Thursday, July 17, 2008

MILLHOUSE: A relevant film in the wake of the Obama controversy.

Time to mention something from the past that's relevant in the wake of the controversy over the Obama cover of THE NEW YORKER and the ensuing "righteous progressive" noise about how "this is an important election and THE NEW YORKER should be ashamed if their irreverent cover deters one voter from voting for Obama and against John McCain:".

Earlier this week, I watched Emile de Antonio's somewhat irreverent 1971 documentary of Richard Nixon's life and career--MILLHOUSE: A WHITE COMEDY.

Nixon was so offended by the film that he managed to ensure its nonshowing after early and successful NYC runs--and de Antonio was included on Tricky Dick's infamous "Enemies List."

Moral: Ensuring political correctness through censorship is a very bad thing--whether from the left or the right.

MILLHOUSE is available for rent on Netflix or for sale as part of a boxset of de Antonio films from HVE Entertainment--a subsidiary of Criterion.

Update (7/19/08): Here's a link to SLATE columnist Jack Shafer's column on the NEW YORKER cover: http://www.slate.com/id/2195317/

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

FOX NEWS' Chris Wallace: Comedian.

From yesterday's issue of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, I found this quote from Fox News' Chris Wallace regarding the hiring of Karl "you can't subpoena me, I'm Karl Rove" Rove as a component (along with former Hillaryite Howard Wolfson) of its election coverage:

"I don't understand why Congress and the White House having a fight over executive power should in any way inhibit who an independent news organization (hires)."

Cue the laugh track--especially on the words "independent news organization."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

FOX NEWS and their tribute-of-sorts to Tony Snow.

Tony Snow presented an amiable face to the public (except when he was irritated by liberal contrarians; witness the time he sniped at Matt Taibbi on an episode of REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER last season) and he doled out Butch Administration propaganda adroitly enough, but I'm guessing he won't be given the sendoff by the mainstream media that Tim Russert (who was good at washing the feet of powerful people and occaisonally playing the role of  "tough journalist" by asking questions about inconsistent rhetoric on certain issues) received.

Yesterday, I turned to Fox News to watch a Butch Administration counsel (I believe it was Dan Bartlett) deliver a eulogizing phone call to whoever the male Saturday afternoon anchor was.

Then, a bumper appeared at the commercial break: WAS PHIL GRAMM RIGHT?  IS AMERICA A NATION OF WHINERS?

I can imagine Tony Snow appearing as a ghost to Roger Ailes; giving an All-American smile and then disappearing, ready to ascend the stairway to GOP Heaven--confident that lies and distortions in the name of a conservative dictatorship will still be doled out to people who think anything is true if it appears on television and caters to their fears and prejudices.

Update (7/15/08): RADAR magazine's website has provided a greatest-hits transcript collection of Tony Snow's dissembling and "handling" the press during his tenure as Press Secretary:

http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/07/remember-tony-snow.php

Brendan Fraser: subject of one of the all-time great celebrity puff articles.

Brendan Fraser, occasional actor (GODS AND MONSTERS, THE QUIET AMERICAN, CRASH, SCHOOL TIES) and more-often Big Handsome Galoot leading man in CGI-stuffed extravaganzas (THE MUMMY series and the just-opened JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH) gets a huge puff piece in today's LOS ANGELES TIMES by stringer Michael Cardona:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-fraser13-2008jul13,0,6439830.story

This should keep Fraser's ego properly inflated, especially the phrase about the combined gross of his films.  It's safe to say that most moviegoers may like his amiable presence, but they go to films like THE MUMMY for reasons other than Brendan Fraser is toplining.  If Cardona's logic about Fraser as Reliable Star of Big Tentpole Movies had more than an ounce of truth, then Joe Dante's misfired-but-sometimes-funny LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION (which Fraser and Jenna Elfman co-starred in) would have been a worldwide smash.

Nice try, Mr. Cardona, but Brendan Fraser is no Will Smith.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Phil Gramm's "whining" remark.

For those of us of a certain age with long memories, ex-Senator (and John McCain's "economic guru") Phil Gramm from my former home state of Texas was cringeworthy long before his recent remarks about the economy--basically Republican happy-talk denying the pain that a lot of people are suffering. 

Gramm, in the 80s, went from Democrat to Republican and, over the years, has proven himself a combination of the worst character traits of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Here's mainstream media pundit Howard Fineman, of NEWSWEEK and COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN fame, with a brief but pithy commentary on Gramm's recent blurt:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/145421/page/1

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Elaine May: Another example of older women in Hollywood who need to avoid plastic surgery.

Unfortunately, I don't have a screen-grab or a link, but I want you to take my word for it: legendary comedienne, screenwriter and director Elaine May (who made one of the funniest-ever comedies, A NEW LEAF, released in 1971) has replaced Priscilla Presley and GENERAL HOSPITAL's Jackie Zeman as the poster person for unnecessary-and-unflattering later-life cosmetic surgery.  My wife and I vividly noticed this when watching a DVR playback of USA's two-hours-with-commercials condensation of the AFI Tribute to Warren Beatty.

In Ms. May's case, she rarely appears onscreen (the last example I can think of is a supporting role in Woody Allen's SMALL TIME CROOKS years ago)--so I'm amazed and appalled that women of a certain age that toil in Show Business on the other side of the camera feel the need to bow to social conformity by way of tucks and tightening.  Whereas, aging men in the business such as screenwriter/director Robert Towne, are able to look like, say, an old desert rat in a tux, and no one looks askance at this sexist double standard. 

Ms. May's face looks as if she were punched--hard--on both cheeks.  By comparison, Faye Dunaway's facial surgery, with notable cheekbone work, looks relatively subtle.

Enough said on this unfortunate fact of Hollywood life.

A DGA member stands naked in contempt: re the SAG/AMPTP negotiations.

Years ago, when I worked as a background actor/occasional stand-in, I was aware that some assistant directors and production assistants had a contemptuous attitude towards people lower in station than themselves. 

A few minutes ago, I looked at Nikki Finke's DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY blog and came upon this toxic post by someone now in the Directors Guild.  I'll clean up the language a little and provide some context in brackets:

After being a production assistant for longer than I care to say and now finally a member of the DGA (and also SAG,) I’ve seen the inanities of SAG upclose: from their silly “three voucher” rule [meaning three SAG background vouchers] for background to join, which, by the way is dubbed the [sexual favors for vouchers rule] on a lot of sets I’ve worked on, to the ridiculous popularity contests for board membership conducted in background holding areas. The reason SAG is going to lose this battle; and they will lose is because they conduct themselves like a high school clique than a professional organization of craftsmen.

Sure you can blame the DGA for settling their contract quickly; how dare they come to the table armed with facts! Or you can take it out on the WGA for not waiting to negotiate their contract with SAG, and after seeing the way SAG has conducted themselves in regards to AFTRA, can you blame them? But the problem solely rest with SAG. How can you take this Guild seriously when so many of its voting members and so many on its negotiating committee haven’t worked in YEARS? If SAG wants to be taken seriously it needs to take itself seriously first.

And by the way, I can’t wait to find out which way the 100+ Skid Row residents who became SAG members on The Soloist [a docudrama written by Susannah Grant and directed by Joe Wright of ATONEMENT fame starring Jamie Foxx as a street person who's a talented violinist and Robert Downey, Jr. as LA TIMES columnist Steve Lopez] are going to vote on the contract. Mr. Rosenberg, start courting the “junkie-block.”

[Having read the above, I'm so glad I'm not on a working set today with this exemplary DGA member--likely a second second assistant director--barking out orders.]

For more information about the SAG-and-producers negotiations, go to http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com

 

Monday, July 7, 2008

More random notes a la Larry King.

1.  Doesn't the Barack Obama that's "moving to the center" in punditspeak remind one of Peter Finch after being chastised for "meddling" by Ned Beatty's powerful CEO in the boardroom scene from 1976's NETWORK?

2. The guess around our house is that Madonna will get a divorce--but not until the STICKY AND SWEET tour is over.  No guesses as to whether A-Rod will be waiting for her.

3. If you're Christie Brinkley, it has to be a cruel humiliation to have a rich husband who is sufficiently unappreciative of being married to Christie Brinkley to go out and do the same kind of banal  extramarital activities that many married or cohabiting men engage in--though most cheaters can't afford $300K a la Peter Cook to keep their mistresses from talking.  It's safe to predict that if Christie decides to write (or have ghostwritten for her) a tell-all about being a betrayed fiftysomething supermodel, the book will be an inevitable best seller.

 

But I can't help but feel sad regarding the casual cruelty Brinkley and Cook's children will face from their peers in private school, as well as the likelihood of long-lensed photographers being tempted to shoot the kids' photos for TMZ or the print tabloids.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Saying goodbye to Jesse Helms, uber-racist.

Not so long ago, I read a Michael Kinsley definition of the word "gaffe"; it boiled down to someone saying something that everyone knew to be true but was a statement that people didn't dare utter in public.

I read an obit of North Carolina's former Senator Jesse Helms that tried to tiptoe around his antipathy towards African-Americans; as an antidote, here's a link to a blog in THE NEW REPUBLIC's online edition that some may take as a "gaffe" in the Kinsley tradition, but displays just what kind of person Helms was:

http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2008/07/04/jesse-helms-is-dead.aspx

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Another POETIX editorial

Here's another column from the POETIX.net poetry site:

http://poetix.net/garcia_essay2.htm

No comment except that I have memories of Lily Tomlin's "Tasteful Lady" character.