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Strings on Fire

 Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments, REDCAT, February 6, 2017 —                                     REDCAT's February 6 concert, "Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments", was quirky, ambitious, lengthy and rewarding. At the outset, not all of the 240 seats were occupied; after intermission, another 50 were empty. Even for those of us who love music, two hours of solo violin/viola was daunting. But the more one focused on Mark Menzies—his calm demeanor, the skills he employed to navigate complex music, the remarkable range of sounds emanating from his instruments—the more involving the evening became. He also had a couple of … [Read more...]

“We’re never going home”

Women's March on Washington, January Twenty First, 2017, Washington DC — We made an unlikely trio: an artist, a banker and an architect. I knew them better by their Twitter handles than by name, having met long ago in the faceless context of Internet fandom. Bound together by a deep love for tennis and the irresistible appeal of Rafael Nadal, it wasn’t the US Open that had brought us together on this chilly morning, but the results of the US Inauguration. Gathering in the 4 AM darkness of a January morning, we proudly clutched homemade signs and posters like precious homework assignments. Sleepily joining a long bus line in our pink hats and slogan-driven T-shirts, groups of drunken youths occasionally stumbled past us, … [Read more...]

The Russian Evolution

S. Rachmaninoff, P.Tchaikovsky, A. Arensky, D.Shostakovich, S.Taneyev,, Le Salon de Musiques January 8, 2017— Despite its often dark past, the "Russian Bear" has blessed our eyes and ears with great beauty, from the architecture of St. Petersburg palaces, onion domes on Orthodox churches, painted religious icons and the contents of the Hermitage Museum to Faberge's bejeweled Easter eggs and the enduring novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin. Following his 1837 death, it was Pushkin's tales that provided inspiration for a century of artists who created perhaps his country's greatest gift to the world--music. A partial list of notable composers who were born or writing in 19th century Russia includes Glinka, Balakirev, … [Read more...]

Death and the Avant-Garde in Our Neoliberal Nightmare

The Ontology of Tantrum — On the eve of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 I happened to attend a performance of Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis at UCLA and, oddly enough, it was the perfect work of art to draw me back from the brink. I thought of this again after finding myself on the edge of an even deeper abyss following the debacle of November 6, 2016, when two recent productions served a similar purpose. I’m talking about Marissa Chibas’s The Second Woman at Bootleg, and Letter to a Man by Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Both productions managed to cast new light on our increasingly dire situation in the US, reminding me in very different ways of the ferocity with which our right wing elite has been waging … [Read more...]

Los Liones 2, Los Liones 3

Uneasy Landscapes,  Los Liones 2, 2013,  Los Liones 3, 2013 by Brian Forrest   Los Liones 2, 2013 Los Liones 3 … [Read more...]

A Sistine Chapel for Our Time

"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving." — Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787 — I must confess that I felt no such awe when I first saw the Sistine Chapel, sometime in the seventies. By the time I reached it I was furious, having come from the Vatican Art Museum where I saw works of art that had been plundered but were exhibited as trophies to the glory of the Holy See. The Chapel did nothing to restore my capacity for awe. I giggled at Adam in limp-wristed lassitude, reluctant to receive God’s touch; at God swooping toward him in a conveyance that looks like a cutaway section of a body organ. Feeling suffocated by the reverence of the craning … [Read more...]

Romantic Respite

R.Strauss, X.Schrwenka, R.Schumann, Le Salon de Musiques November 6, 2016— One hour of daylight was taken from us on November 6th in the annual turning back of clocks.  Only two days later, the presidential election would rob almost exactly half the country of the candidate they hoped would win. Depending on one's political persuasion, it would be either the best or worst day in a long, long time. But on Sunday, the 6th, the outcome could only be guessed at, prayed for or feared. One thing, however, was certain: the entire populace, left or right or center, had definitely experienced more than enough pundit-pontificating, TV commercials, flyers in mailboxes, exhorting robocalls, tense arguments and an endless barrage … [Read more...]

The Human Side of Drone Warfare

National Bird (2016), Produced and Directed by Sonia Kennebeck— What happens to humanity when you take the humanity out of warfare? The documentary, National Bird, which opens in theaters in New York and around the country on Veterans Day, November 11, addresses this question head on. The official argument would have us believe, that at least in the US, humanity benefits. Our servicemen and women conduct war safely, here at home, playing with cool technology that negates injury and losses. But, as with any adoption of a new technology, the planned effects may differ drastically from the actual outcome. National Bird offers us an opportunity to see this war through the eyes of both the operators and their victims. The film … [Read more...]

Crypto Nazi vs Queer

Best of Enemies, (2015), Directed by Morgan Neville Robert Gordo, Magnolia Pictures — One of the most consequential U.S. elections is only days away. Finally. The past eighteen months have seen constant bickering and insults from the two front-runners, "oppo research" and dirty tricks orchestrated by their campaign teams and an endless stream of threats, leaks, ugly invective and sexual allegations. Instead of a polite exchange of ideas and policies, non-stop "mud-slinging" has clogged cable news networks; as voting day draws near, only the candidates' foibles and flaws are highlighted. People around the world remain perplexed by America's staggering expenditure in electing a president—a billion dollars, per race, … [Read more...]

The Radical Middle

And the Two-Stroke Engine of the Modern— Related Posts: Toward an Experimental Politics of Nonviolence, The Giver of Fearlessness We’re disappointed with our world as it is, with life as it is. This misery is easier to bear when there’s someone or something to blame. Hope returns when we imagine that little fix that could be made, after which purity would arrive (either from the remembered past or from the imagined future). All then, we believe, would be good. But of course, there are those people who stand in the way…and against them we direct the purest hatred. When it comes to those who rob us of the purity that is ours by right, our anger knows no bounds. Fascism lives right there, in that anger, and no where else. … [Read more...]