JOAN OF ART: My Favorite Theater Company, About John Wick 3, and Pacific Visions

Friday evening I'll be at one of my favorite LA theaters...The Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood. Every single play I've seen at this company totally rocked. They are always at their best.

So I naturally can't wait to see their new production which opens Friday May 17th at 8pm entitled AT THE TABLE, written by Michael Perlman and directed by Judith Moreland. The play has been called by its creators as a 'Big Chill' for the millennial generations. If you haven't seen it, you're missing an iconic film.

AT THE TABLE is about six ethnically and sexually diverse friends who head out of the city on their annual weekend retreat. With no social media, no cell phones, no internet allowed at all, this leaves them with one thing to do...look up from their screens and talk to each other. Remember talking?

When the liquor starts flowing and the tongues loosen, no conversation is uneventful and no topic is off limits. In the end, these so called liberal friends realize they're not as enlightened or diverse as they thought.

If you see this play, be sure to leave your review on their show page her on Better Lemons so they can qualify for a LemonMeter rating!

The Road Theatre is located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. The play runs Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. until July 7th. For more information and to purchase tickets go to RoadTheatre.org or call 818-761-8838.

And now for something completely different. JOHN WICK 3...Parabellum. First I must say that I absolutely loved the first JOHN WICK as well as the second one. Yes, both films were violent but the story penetrated through all the brilliantly staged sword fights, knife fights, hand to hand combat scenes to old fashioned gun fights which are anything but old fashion.

In the first film we meet Keanu Reeves who nailed the part of the assassin who miraculously retires after marrying the love of his life. Her sudden death leaves him in deep mourning.

When a sadistic mobster and his thugs steal John's prized car and kill the puppy that was a last gift from his wife, he unleashes the remorseless killing machine within and seeks vengeance. The world created by the writer Derek Kolstad and directed Chad Taheiski was just so creative and so extremely original that you didn't mind the excessive violence and the same goes for the second film.

This brings us to John Wick 3...Parabellum which opens where the second film leaves off. John has to get out of New York City fast. And I mean FAST. Wick has been deemed 'Excommunicated' by the High Table and all of his rights and privileges are stripped away and there's an open contract on him starting at $14 million dollars. So basically every single person in New York City and all around the globe are trying to kill the dude.

BTW, The film is 133 minutes long and 110 minutes is violence to the extreme. I'm talking about sadistic, savage violence. At first it was applauded BY THE AUDIENCE at the press screening I attended. Then the audience started to laugh and then silence. I don't know what they were feeling but personally I was bored by the overly long fight scenes.

Yes the cast is great. Ian McShane's part as the proprietor of the assassins home away from home, the Continental Hotel, an establishment designated as a safe ground for those in the killing trade.

The film also stars Halle Berry, who is upstaged by her two incredible dogs, and Ava Kate Dillon (Billions), who plays The Adjudicator who arrives in New York City to make sure her minions get the job done.

The film has received great reviews but it just didn't do for me. Love to know what you think. It opens in theatres November 14th.

Now after all this excitement I recommend spending the day at the Aquarium of the Pacific. It houses an art gallery that transports you under the ocean, a state of the art theatre with multi sensory effects and a culmination gallery with interactive game tables, and live animal exhibits including the first and only public aquarium exhibit with the controversial delta smelt fish.

Aquarium of the Pacific / PR Use of Scouts - Photography by Tom Bonner - Job ID 6417

As the new focal point of the Aquarium, Pacific Visions provides a platform to integrate the arts and sciences and offers visitors innovative ways to explore their impact on our ocean planet while allowing them to explore sustainable solutions. The topics of how we produce and consume food energy and water as well as ways to make more sustainable choices are highlighted.

All 29,000 square feet and two stories, it is the Aquarium's first major expansion and the result of more than a decade of planning and development using the latest technology and methods of storytelling that combine art, science, and interactivity. Pacific Visions is an example of the aquarium of the future. Pacific Visions opens to the public on Friday May 24th. I'm writing about it now to give you plenty of time to prepare for a visit.This is a great event for the whole family.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way Long Beach CA 90802. For more information and tickets go to AquariumofPacific.org/pacificvisions.

Whatever you plan to do this weekend people, make it a fun one!


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – May 6 - 12, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Too Blunt!

“Your typical Midwestern-African American-Gay-Cat Loving-Sagittarian-Coming-of-Age Story in Los Angeles. A Black gay boy from Missouri shares his long and liberating journey to weight loss, dating in the gay-app era, while unpacking the complex intersectionality of race and sexual orientation– and the twisted heartbreak and humor that ensues.”

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Clementine

“CLEMENTINE celebrates the exhilaration of motherhood, balancing poetic passages with humorous detours into the modern realities of raising small children...[moving] forward and backward through time, exploring the pressures and the promises of parenthood. Unapologetically feminist and powerfully tender, CLEMENTINE studies a matriarchal family's traditions, exploring the connection between generations through Wish's lens as both a mother and a daughter...In this dynamic and often hilarious piece, April Wish has crafted a love letter to her daughter, Clementine, as well as to the little girl she used to be herself.”

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The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

“Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber and state your primary symptom of longing. And where do you feel it in your body? And how much do you feel it on a scale of 1 to 10? And are you running out of time? The Institute for The Opposite of Longing can cure that thing deep in the pit of your body. But what happens when its owners and operators can't let go of the little boy they had to give back? And can't stop reenacting the day they packed his bags and watched him go. Or tucking him in at night or talking to his empty shoes or unpacking the bag of his things they keep hidden. What happens when these are the women who are responsible for curing that thing, that thing you feel deep in the pit of your body? Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber. We can help you. The process is simple.”

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The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

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Radicals

“'Radicals' is a Bollywood Musical about a love story struggling to survive in the war-torn valleys of Kashmir, aimed at tackling Islamophobia and the trauma of warfare on civilians.”

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Siren Call

“The siren call is driving me to my end, like a ship to wreck on rocks”. Two frustrated actors accidentally kidnap their favorite movie star… or is it really her? What is identity in a world where myths are stronger than we dare think? A dramedy about identity and oneness, frustrated actors, classism, depression, myths and a quote by Albert Camus.”

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LOVE, MADNESS, AND SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

“'Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between' is a no holds barred glimpse into a mystical journey filled with love, pain, insanity, and redemption. Scattered along the way is a sprinkling of ironic comic commentary that can only come from a true survivor. “Jimmy” is not so much a hero but more a human being traversing an abusive childhood, a descent into alcoholism and finally plunging into a world of fantastical personifications which dwell amidst humanity's darkest sins. Will closure, forgiveness, and healing come in the unlikely form of the “angel warriors” – patients on the pediatric cancer ward of Children's Hospital? Does pure love, in fact, transform and redeem, or are some lives beyond salvation?”

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Tattered Capes

“In 'Tattered Capes,' it's Kevin and Stephanie Connolly's fifth wedding anniversary, and Kevin has a night of celebration planned for them. Of course, this means he won't be going out on his regular patrol of Metro City as his alter-ego, M-Pulse, the self-appointed Eminence of Electromagnetism. But things should be fine without him for one night, right? Wrong. One would think that there could be no secrets left between a husband and wife after five years of matrimonial bliss, but when a powerful supervillain's attack interrupts Kevin and Stephanie's date, a hero's unmasking bears significant consequences for the Connollys…consequences that will resonate and redefine their relationship forever. ”

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Squeeze My Cans

“A true journey in to and out of Scientology. 'Moving, hilarious, heart-breaking and redemptive.' Lets you experience for yourself how Scientology devours money and lives.' -Chicago Reader 'Schenkelberg easily switches characters and time periods with dizzying energy, that is both exhilarating and electrifying.'- Edge Media 'At the top of the best performed, brilliantly written, elegantly directed one person shows I have ever seen.'- Buzz News”

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Skylight

“On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant, a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires. Can they find their way back to each other, or has the time for their tumultuous romance reached its end? ”

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Tigers Be Still

“'Tigers Be Still' — a ferociously funny play from New Girl writer Kim Rosenstock — centers around the infinitely-trying-to-be-optimistic Sherry Wickman, who has earned her art therapy degree and promptly moved back in with her family. Matters take a turn for the better once she gets hired as a substitute art teacher. Now if only her mother would stop hiding upstairs, her sister would stop watching Top Gun from the couch, her petulant patient would do one of his assignments, her boss would leave his gun at home, and someone would catch the tiger that escaped from the local zoo, everything would be just perfect.”

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CORINA, From Lap dance to Sundance

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your dream alive. CORINA: FROM LAP DANCE TO SUNDANCE is a one-woman show about finding purpose and direction to a life long dream in the least likely of places. A story of family, tradition, and perseverance.”

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Legends, Movement and Memories

“The performers include: Florence LaRue, an original member of The 5th Dimension, the pop group that so often dominated the charts in the 60s and 70s with their hit songs, will perform some of the award-winning singing group's big hits. Freda Payne will perform an excerpt from her show Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song, bringing to life the immortal Ella Fitzgerald and her revered career as an extraordinary jazz singer. Sheetal Gandhi in BAHU-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-inLaw, Daughter, Wife). A tour-de-force excerpt combining dance, stirring vocalization, and percussive text that glides between humorous portraiture and active resistance. Juli Kim shares two dance works. Five Drum Dance exemplifies Korean traditional music with a touch of Western influence. New Leaf, deeply rooted in Korean “Han,” symbolically unfolds the innocence of the new leaf when there is change in life.”

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Mama Metal

“This joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons to tell a truly unique mother-daughter story. Sterling Milburn's mother is dying and Sterling is falling apart. She attempts to keep it together by rewriting the past with the help of two titans of the American theater and the world's greatest heavy metal band — but Sterling's mother refuses to follow the script. A love letter to those who shape our lives, hold us together and break our hearts.”

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Dancing to the Edge of a Cliff: One Woman's Musical Mythological Journey toward Self-Acceptance

“Incorporating music, multimedia, humor, a touch of mythology, and embodying over twenty characters, Margaret whimsically puts her psyche on stage to explore her struggle with self-acceptance and her experience of two mental breakdowns. Margaret explores not only what outside influences molded her personality when she was growing up and as an adult, but also confronts two internal voices, representing the competing compulsions of artistry (Puella) and perfectionism (Miss Perfect). Realizing in the end that what she has been taught her whole life was right, doesn't work for her.”

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Ride or Die: The Hip-Hop Musical

“Elliott and Michael are best friends. They're of different temperaments. Elliott is boisterous and outgoing. Michael is more tentative and shy. One day, Elliott dies in an accident. He's allowed to come back to earth, where he can only be seen by Michael. Elliott is tasked with finding Michael a new best friend. Only then will Elliott earn his angel wings and be allowed to ascend into Heaven. Michael wants to be friends with Ciara. Will Elliott be able to help Michael connect with Ciara, or will he mess things up for them all? Will Michael and Ciara ultimately become friends? Will Elliott earn his angel wings? The cast is unique in the fact that most of the performers are differently-abled: John JT Tucker Jr. (Elliott), has Down syndrome. He is the star of the A&E tv series Born This Way. Domonique Brown (Michael) has autism and recurs on the Netfiix series Atypical. He's the nephew of Marvin Gaye. Spencer Harte (Ciara) has autism and also recurs on Atypical. The supporting players include Coby Bird who has autism and will be a regular on a Netflix series to be announced; and Caley Versfelt, who has Down syndrome.
The rest of the cast is neurotypical and includes Brendan McCay, Stanson Chung, Alexa Russo and Callie Ott.”

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Karaoke Saved My Life

“Scotty D, just a city boy from South Detroit, invites you on a Journey, showing you how karaoke saved his life, and how it can save yours, too. With stories, power ballads, big anthems, and cheesy pop, and a bit of bopping, we might even save the World. Don't stop believing!”

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Fight Song!

“Texas. 1964. Following a deadly car crash, four cheerleaders navigate through the afterlife. Both Lucifer and God herself pay a visit, and High School drama turns into madness in this strange nightmare of a story – a never-ending fight song.”

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Fight or Flight

“Isaac Easton, a recently retired boxer, and his former sports manager open a gym together to help advance the popularity of female boxing. When their first female boxer gets into trouble only three weeks from the fight, they scramble to find a new fighter to train. Enter Zoey Jones, a young and shy fighter who has never fought in the professional circuit. Easton and Jones take a crash course in trusting and learning from each other over three weeks in preparation for the fight, and the two often butt heads. Can Jones pull out a win and save Easton's reputation and gym? Through voice-overs and grueling workouts in preparation for the fight, this one-act play shows the audience how intimate a platonic relationship between a man and woman can be, the beauty of physical strength, and what happens when you are stuck in fight or flight mode.”

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Five Pieces of Paper: Stories My Hungarian Grandmother Refused to Tell Me and Other Family Tales

“Moti Buchboot, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, created this show in response to the 2017 Charlottesville riots. He reveals lessons learned from his Hungarian grandmother who began her life in a village in Hungary, survived the Holocaust, and eventually settled in a small town in Israel. Buchboot's tale unfolds through storytelling, Yiddish song, puppetry, and baking.”

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The Narcissist Next Door

“The power of positive thinking goes hilariously wrong when a new neighbor teaches two dispirited best friends an Ancient Peruvian Self Help Philosophy. Instead of their lives being transformed they end up held hostage by two inept kidnappers. 'Be careful who you wish for' has never been more appropriate.”

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POCKETS

“Set in the fictional British-ish kingdom of Crumpeton, POCKETS spins the tale of Bellamina Crumbledunk, a noble preteen, who becomes a pickpocket to win the attention of her overextended mother, the Duchess. Bellamina's misadventures take her into the underbelly of society, where she accidentally becomes the leader of a criminal uprising, but will she have the heart to sabotage her mother's well-laid plans for Crumpet Day? #CheckYourPockets for tickets to this fast-paced, funny, and touching period piece to find out!”

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Straight White Men Trying to Woke

“Five short comedies exploring the middle age white male struggle to fit in during these confusing times.
FANDOM – navigating politics
POLITE RACISM – analyzing ethnicity
SUICIDE PACT – tolerating millennials
BRITTLE TROMBONE – contemplating economics
FANTASY FOOTBALL – grasping identity”

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Girl From SchenectadyGirl From Schenectady

“Selected as an Honorable Mention for the Hollywood Fringe 2019 due to it's cultural theme, “Girl From Schenectady” is a story about a 38-year-old Nigerian Woman from Schenectady New York who is still a Virgin. Her story begins with her Journey to finding True Love. However, her plan is to find Mr. Right and to lose her Virginity before she turns 40. The story takes place at the Airport, while Ayo is waiting for her next flight to take off, she describes the metaphoric places she has traveled to Find True Love. She takes the Audience on a ride to her past and her Nigerian family traditions, Culture, and Values. She struggles to break free from her Nigerian Generational Cycle, Parental Divorce, Failed Marriages and to keep history from repeating itself. Ayo also takes the Audience on her dating journey starting with a Nigerian Man. She also dates a Mexican Man, an Italian Man and an African American Man. After several attempts to finding True Love and Losing her virginity before 40, she goes on a self-discovery, and Lands in the last place she ever thought she would find True Love.”

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Dames at Sea

“Ruby gets off the bus from Utah with “nothing but tap shoes in her suitcase and a prayer in her heart.” As fate would have it, she is immediately cast in the chorus of a Broadway show. When the theatre is forced to close, Ruby's songwriting sailor boyfriend persuades the Captain of his ship to allow the show to move on deck. Voila! Dames at sea! When the show's lead gets seasick, Ruby may have to go on for her. Will Ruby come back a star? Do you need to ask? Dames at Sea at once pays affectionate homage to and sends up the optimistic early Broadway musicals of the 30s and 40s. It's filled with songs, tap-dancing and romance from start to finish. It is suitable for general audiences.”

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Rory and the Devil

“During the height of The Troubles, in a rural pub on the border of Northern Ireland, Mary Friel, a barmaid, strives to maintain harmony amongst the men in her life. Ancestral legends and secrets are revisited and a cycle of violence is revealed: can they forgive injustice and cruelty from their past, or will the cycle continue? Enjoy a Guinness and whiskey as a group of actors take you to Neil Friel's pub–a safe place for a good story–until it isn't. In this bare-bones production of Rory and the Devil you can enjoy the best of what Irish storytelling has to offer.”

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Johnny '81

“It's 1981! The corpse of disco, the flames of punk, the plastic smell of new wave, and the balls of rock ‘n' roll, all converge and merge on a seemingly peaceful street in West Hollywood, CA, along with the stories of a 12-year-old boy raised by a pill-popping single mother and the many gay men in their life...Against a backdrop of music, 'JOHNNY '81' weaves together a collection of stories based on a 12-year-old boy's experience of living in West Hollywood during the early 1980s. These semi-autobiographical tales bring to life the humor and drama of how a group of gay men became strange and amazing surrogate fathers to a pre-teen boy and his younger brother...'JOHNNY '81' is like spending the day listening to an old record album, or like being at a concert, with stories that make us reflect on our lives and the world we live in, or tales that make you just want to get up out of your seat and dance!”

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Bronco Billy - The Musical

“'Voice from the Village'...is based upon one of Los Angeles greatest playwrights, Lynn Manning and his in real time visit to Skid Row Studios on Monday, August 26, 2013 for an interview on “The Qumran Report”, hosted by Melvin Ishmael Johnson to talk about his life growing up in Watts and turning a tragic situation into an art form.”

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If It Goes There

“It's Saturday night, and Erik and Connor are looking to get laid. When they try their luck on a hook-up app, the night takes a turn they never expected and their true desires are revealed.”

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A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present

“When 85% of the world is afflicted with a mysterious case of 'The Flake,' one man volunteers to travel through space and time to stop it. 'A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present' is a far-out, amped-up, one-man show about the hunt for human connection. ”

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The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer

“'The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer' is a comic interpretation of the oft-told story/fable/allegory/whatchamawhoositz about a frog who agrees to take a scorpion across a river. Will the two make it to the other side of said river? Will they learn anything? Will they grow as [an] intelligent species? Will these questions entice you to actually leave your homes and see this play?”

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Uprooted

“In 'Uprooted,' the creatures of Vanessa Boss' inner world take you on the flight of her life! A disturbance triggers violent weather, endangering matriarch Elda, the elder tree, the voice of Vanessa's wisdom. Elda leads Vanessa's inner fantasy creatures on a journey to remind Vanessa of her strength, but Vanessa's demons take control of the flight and her mind as she is moved, again and again, facing bullies, saying unexpected goodbyes to friends, and hoping for the day to come where she'll get to choose where home is. But is home a place or a feeling? Full of exciting adventure, triumph, and heartbreak, Vanessa frees herself from the restraints of her inner demons and proclaims her power to define her own fate. Uprooted is a young woman's resilient story of growing into the strong, rooted woman she is meant to be. ”

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ORANGUTAN

“Orangutan is a haunting and absurd one-woman show about the mother of a brutish (slightly orange) would-be dictator, and the tribalism that's tearing our country apart. Deutch's provocative dark comedy was inspired by Bill Maher's challenge to Donald Trump's outrageous Obama “Birther” claims. Maher offered to donate five million dollars to the charity of Donald Trump's choice if Trump produced a birth certificate that proved he was not half-ape. Trump's lawyer responded: 'Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump's birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an Orangutan.' Trump then sued Bill Maher for five million dollars…”

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ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS

“In this new play, Neil, a mediocre musician, and Kurt Cobain wannabe, moves to Los Angeles to “make it” as a rockstar. Through the constant ups and downs of LA living, Neil struggles between pursuing his passions or taking the practical path in life. Should he keep chasing his dreams or stop? This 60-minute three-person show explores idealism vs. cynicism, the practicality of pursuing art in a capitalist society, and millennials' struggle with mental health.”

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NAKED MAN RISING

“Aren't you tired of going to the theater and seeing the same old shit? Check out 'Naked Man Rising,' a crowd favorite from the Solo Creation Festival. We're talking sold out, folk. This tale of revenge rips through the stage like a Grindhouse film and features a balls-to-the-wall performance by Canadian Wildman and naturalist Kyle Durack. Not for your Grandma…unless, she's a badass. Winner of the Hollywood Fringe Scholarship for first-time Producers, Kyle is thrilled to bring 'Naked Man Rising' to the 2019 Fringe Festival. The writing is crisp and the play moves along at a deft pace. But the words are simply a vehicle for Kyle Durack's powerful interpretation. The Canadian actor was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, and in this piece, he sheds his disability along with his clothes to reveal the inner strength concealed by a “weakened” body. 'Naked Man Rising' mixes humor and action. Durack uses his physicality well as he tells the story.”

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HELL'S FINEST

“The cult of Abaddon has a problem. The Angel of the Abyss, the figure with which they worship, is demanding a new leader. But not just anybody will qualify. Only the darkest, most demented contestants stand a chance at obtaining total power. A sadist, a murderer, and a predator, all share one common goal: to become the leader of the finest cult, the Ascendants of Abaddon. There's only one problem. In order to obtain this position, they must go up against each other in a riveting competition to impress the cult's current leader: Adam. He's spectacularly charming and possesses the uncanny ability to influence all those who cross his path. With secrets spilled and matches met, the three contestants grow more and more daring with their desperate attempts to gain total power. However, no matter what happens, no matter who lies and who cheats, Adam always calls the final shots.”

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Not Here Right Now

“The hilariously touching tale of a tall man in tight spaces, finding clarity and avoiding a quarter-life crisis in Southeast Asia, all while wearing strappy velcro sandals except to the wedding of the century. Tired of the monotony of New York City corporate life, Royce, an ambitious 20-something, trades in his promising media research career for a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. In this live one-man show, Royce brings you on an 8-country adventure toward self-discovery. During 'Not Here Right Now,' audiences are treated to true stories and experiences of Royce's inspiring journey from corporate citizen to world traveler. The original production of Not Here Right Now was successfully funded on Kickstarter thanks to the support of 165 people from around the world.”

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IF TRUTH BE TOLD

“A raucous evening of comic stories, told by a woman who has seen a few things. Actress and humorist Jennifer Brown examines how the truth can play out in a variety of ways. What exactly is “the truth”? And when you are asked to tell the truth, whose truth do you stand in?”

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Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door

“A comedic romp through depression, eating disorders and self-loathing! Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door is a one-act play chronicling one woman's journey through her depression and bulimarexia. It is a painfully funny look at body image, addiction, and the obsession with fitting into society's ideal of beauty and thinness. It is part poetry and prose, part sketch and part narrative with a few snappy dance numbers mixed in. Three actresses portray one woman in various stages of her eating disorder and crippling depression. They are joined by one male actor portraying various influences in her childhood development, teenage years and young adulthood. This autobiographical theatrical experience intimately exposes the perils of womanhood, the rawness of living through sexual trauma and culminates in discovering the inner strength to live comfortably in one's own skin ”

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Mil Grus

“Previous Fringe award winners team up for this year's Hollywood Fringe to create the First official Bouffon/Clown troupe “MIL GRUS” led by world-renowned physical theater artist Dean Evans of “Honeybuns” fame. Be prepared as this motley crew of miscreants crawl out of the gutter to make you question reality in the most exhilarating way. This timeless satire features improvised feats of physical and existential comedy that defy explanation and provoke unfettered, eery glee. Come see what's behind the curtain, starting June 9, 2019, at The Mccadden Place Theatre”

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Human Fountains

“As seen on America's Got Talent (quarter-finalists) and countless television shows around the world! Prepare for a fountain show like you've never seen before! The Human Fountain's hilarious choreographed water spitting routines will keep you laughing and thirsty for more. Always making a splash on stage, literally — the group has endless tricks up their sleeves (and in their mouths) giving you performances that are one-of-a-kind. Inspired by the world's most famous fountains, the comedy group adds a human touch to give you one of the most unique experiences you've ever seen. They couldn't be more excited to premiere their full-length show for Hollywood Fringe.”

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Les Mis-Cast

“Cast members from the National Tour of 'Les Misérables' (now at the Pantages Theatre through June 2) will perform in a very special cabaret concert to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and PAWS/LA. Patrons will support two great causes as they enjoy an intimate evening of cabaret-style performances. The evening will also feature a silent auction, allowing audience members to bid on items graciously donated by the Broadway community and local businesses.”

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Funeral Potatoes

“What would you do with only a month left to live? What would you look back on with nostalgia or regret? With laughter as the best medicine, Funeral Potatoes is a dark comedy about death and friendship, examining what makes it all worth it when you've spent your entire life planning for a future you won't have.”

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Food Bowl Events: Food and Film

Food and Film - Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin

“Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT. Join Phil Rosenthal, creator, writer and producer of the hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” for a special screening of his Netflix hit 'Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' and a conversation with Phil. This fantastic event will be teamed with none other than Nick Shipp (Upper West) who will be teaming the event with a specially curated Irish themed assortment of food! Specialty drinks provided...Screening with talk-back 75 mins. Nick Shipp Meal With Phil 75 minutes will be followed by a Q&A with Phil and Arena Cinelounge-Clamorhouse-LA Times-Phil Rosenthal event.”

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Food and Film - The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

“NC-17 LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT MON. MAY 20 - The 1989 crime drama is arguably Peter Greenaway's most famous (or infamous) film, which first shocked audiences at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and then on both sides of the Atlantic. A gang leader (Michael Gambon), accompanied by his wife (Helen Mirren) and his associates, entertains himself every night in a fancy restaurant that he has recently bought. Having tired of her sadistic, boorish husband, the wife finds herself a lover (Alan Howard) and makes love to him in the restaurant's coziest places with the silent permission of the cook (Richard Bohringer). Sergio Corbia of Ciabatta Bar and Fabiolus Cafe crafts a specialty menu that complements Greenaway's paradoxical comments on the relations between eating and sex, love and death.”

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More about the L.A. Times Food Bowl:

The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special

“the 2nd annual trump family special original musical comedy' parodies [the] First Family in “yuge” way. What if the First Family put on a live musical TV special – just like the Brady Bunch – starring Ice Princess Ivanka, her numbnut brothers, a still-not-caring Melania, and a host of ex's and deplorables.”

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Princess Magic's Trash Fire Time Revue

“A child's birthday party takes an unexpected turn when the scheduled magician doesn't show and the job is filled by a drunk and wayward vagrant. There are prizes. You should come. Use discount code BETTERLEMONS for 20% off their regular ticket price of $15”

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THE CHRISTIANS

“As their final show of Season 27, Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present Lucas Hnath's The Christians, directed by Thomas James O'Leary, produced by Carly Lopez. When the pastor of a megachurch unilaterally decides to enlighten his congregation with his own personal revelation, he is faced with doubt and dissension among his flock. Hnath's Obie Award-winning play examines the schism in today's church and the role of faith in America. ”

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StoryTime

“The Group Rep presents StoryTime, a story salon produced by Patricia Willson, featuring fresh, live personal stories as entertainment – – an evening of joy, sadness, and a touch of comedy on Sunday, May 12 at 7:00 pm, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, CA, at the edge of the NoHo Arts District.
Authors performing their stories include Vince Cefalu 'Eyes of A Child,” Devon Curry 'Mach Two,' Jana DiMaggio 'Conventional Wisdom,' Rick Hall 'Mom's Home Cooking,' Tripp Mills 'A Rainbow God Box,' Madeline Morgan 'Salute to Storytellers,' Candace Nicholas-Lippman 'Don't Get It Twisted, I Love My Mama,' Lila Silvern 'This Sperm is For You,' Jonathan Leigh Solomon 'Hello in There,' Lan Tran 'Overpolite, Shanghai'ed and Homeless in Vietnam,' and Pat Willson 'Momma.' ”

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SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical

“The Whitefire Theatre Musical Mondays is proud to present...the musical spoof SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical returns to L.A. for more hilarious re-imagining of the show's backstabbing siblings, clever imps and dragon mamas, all set to an addictive rock score that'll stick in your head (unless the king orders it off, natch)...Watch your favorite daring and most despised characters sing and dance towards epic plot twists and the coveted Iron Throne.”

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AVENUE Q

“The Group Rep presents AVENUE Q...This fresh and unusual Tony-award winning musical is a coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by Sesame Street, that they were 'extraordinary' and 'could do anything'; but as adults, they have discovered, to their surprise, that in the real world their options are limited, and they are actually ordinary like everyone else. This quirky musical ranks 24th on the list of the longest running shows in Broadway history. Avenue Q is notable for the use of puppets, animated by unconcealed puppeteers. ”

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THE COLUMBINE PROJECT

“In remembrance of the 20th Anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Loft Ensemble and the Whitefire Theatre are co-producing and reviving Paul Storiale's award-winning drama The Columbine Project directed by Bree Pavey. An atemporal retelling of the events leading up to, during and following the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, the play challenges what we think we know about the victims, families, teachers and the shooters themselves. Praised by LA theatre critics, survivors and families of the victims. The Columbine Project was created from direct correspondence with people involved in and affected by the event”

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Let's Write a Musical

“Let's Write a Musical is an emotional rollercoaster ride of music, laughter, and tears. David Hamilton decides to write a musical after he is diagnosed with cancer. While the couple deals with the ups and downs of their cancer journey, so are the characters in the musical on a rollercoaster ride of mishaps and shenanigans.”

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Aristophanes' THE BIRDS

“When the world has gone to the birds, the cuckoo is king. Two shiftless con men scheme to exploit the power of the birds by encouraging them to build a fortress in the sky, from where they can lord over mankind and Gods alike. Aristophanes' classic comedy THE BIRDS is about corruption, weakness, and power; how easily people are exploited based on fear, ego and greed; and how even noble ideas may be corrupted if those who have power are irresponsible and/or selfish. (Sound like anything going on now? Hm? Too soon?) Or, as John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton said to an Anglican bishop, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…'”

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Jordan Maverick, History Teacher

“Welcome to the school of hard Glocks. Jordan Maverick is one of the nation's most highly-trained teachers – an excellent marksman, a black belt in Jujitsu, and an engaging History teacher. But when he transfers to one of the most dangerous schools in the country, he'll face one of his biggest fears: co-teaching with the loose cannon Miss Pitts. Can they find a way to work together in time to solve the school's problems? This favorite from Season 13 of Serial Killers at Sacred Fools returns as a complete production at this years Hollywood Fringe.”

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Come Back!

“'Every day's a goddamn audition.' Based on the 'Serial Killers' 2018 Playoffs winner, 'COME BACK' is the hilarious yet touching story of Edie and Petey Stevenson, an overbearing stage mother and her hapless son, attempting to stage a 'comeback' performance. One of three shows Sacred Fools is proud to present as part of this year's Hollywood Fringe.”

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The Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition

“Who is the best Drag Queen in the whole wide world? Now's your chance to find out — at the first ever Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition. Millions of the best Drag performers from around the world applied, but only eight will compete, carefully chosen by a mysterious group of anonymous Drag Elders. ▪︎ The contestants are (in alphabetical order) Abhora (Miami, FL); Astrud Aurelia (Phoenix, AZ); Calypso Jeté (Los Angeles); Lyle (Los Angeles); Gigi Monroe (Juneau, AK); Kat Sass (Chicago, IL); Sabbyiana (Montebello, CA); and Aurora Sexton (Los Angeles). ▪︎ Judged upon the criteria of Presence, Energy, Nuance, Integrity, and Stunningness, this is a pageant for everyone — Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Trans Artists, Hyper Queens, Bio Queens, AFAB Queens — from first-timers to established pageant powerhouses. ▪︎ The celebrity guest host is Jackie Beat. The judges are (in alphabetical order) Nicole Byer, Jiggly Caliente, Landon Cider, Gia Gunn, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, and Willam.”

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5 Women Wearing the Same Dress

“During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. They are Frances, a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy, the cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne, whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior; Meredith, the bride's younger sister whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha, a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism about men is called into question when she meets Tripp, a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent and touching celebration of the women's spirit.”

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Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth

“'Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth' brings the audience alongside the accursed spirit of Lady Macbeth to experience her nightmare of stifled ambition, unfulfilled desire, and ultimate loss. Telling the story solely through her perspective, this production fuses Japanese Butoh dance, movement, and various texts to take you inside the mind and body of one of Shakespeare's most famous villains.”

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JOAN OF ART: A Film Everybody Has Been Waiting For, a Great Blues Festival and a Feast For a Foodie

A few days ago I drove to Disney Studios to see a press screening of AVENGERS ENDGAME and I have one word to describe this film...FANTASTIC! It is everything you want in a super hero movie and more. Without giving anything away, it has great action, edge of your seat tension, humor and it may even bring a tear to your eyes. I mean Super Heroes from all over the universe coming together to fight evil and restore their love ones to earth, how could you not get a little misty eye.

Briefly as many of you know from AVENGERS INFINITY WAR fifty percent of the Earth's population has been wiped out thanks to the evil demigod Thanos (Josh Brolin) by using the six Infinity Stones he acquired. Thanos has to be the first monster that ever cared about overpopulation.

Anyway when the film opens Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr at his best) is adrift in space with no food or water. He sends a message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile the remaining Avengers, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, The Raccoon and Bruce Banner must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos and epic it is.

The film opens Friday, April 26, 2019. Get your tickets immediately because it is selling out fast.

So after delving into this action, fantasy sic-fi what better way to keep the thrills going then to drive to Huntington Beach to see the new BLUES FESTIVAL.

The great lineup includes Eric Sardinas, New Blues Revolution, Guitar Shorty, James Harman, Verdurous, Rhythm Shakers, The Broughams, Whiskey and The Wolves, Deb TGaren Band , The Michael Mills Band and Union Hobos. If you are into the blues, it doesn't get better than this.

The festival is this Saturday April 27th at the Huntington Beach Sports Complex located at 18100 Goldenwest Street in Huntington Beach. To buy tickets and for more information go to NewBluesFestival.com.

Now I don't know about you but after seeing all this great entertainment I'm going to be very hungry and what better way to satiate myself than by going to Downtown Los Angeles Culinary Walking Tour.

This promises to be one fun food experience. Your knowledgeable tour guide will lead you on a leisurely three hour walking adventure through this extraordinary downtown area, sharing stories of the city's early settlers, Hollywood's heyday, architectural background and the transformation of LA's culture and food scene.

Along the way you'll get to enjoy tastes from unique eateries, including the best bakeries, authentic ethnic restaurants and renowned establishment currently creating a buzz in the foodie universe. Six stops in all. By the end of the tour, you'll be able to impress your friends with your vast knowledge of the city and its hidden culinary gems.

To purchase tickets and for more information go to FoodToursOfLosAngeles.com. There are vegetarian and vegan options. The event starts this Saturday April 27th and runs Sunday April 28th, Friday May 3rd, Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th. They all start at 11:00 am.

Whatever you choose do this weekend people, make it a fun one.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – March 18 - 24, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar.
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Bright Star

“From Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award-winning Steve Martin & Grammy Award – winning Edie Brickell, Bright Star tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ‘40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past – and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives. Propelled by an ensemble of onstage musicians and dancers, the story unfolds as a rich tapestry of deep emotion, beautiful melodies and powerfully moving performances. An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you tight in its grasp, Bright Star is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.”

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West Side Story

“From the first notes to the final breath, West Side Story is one of the most memorable musicals and greatest love stories of all time. Arthur Laurents' book remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever. The score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim are widely regarded as among the best ever written. Shakespeare's timeless classic story, Romeo and Juliet, is transported to modern-day New York City as two young, idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the American “Jets” and the Puerto Rican “Sharks”. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.”

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Mistakes Were Made shoulda-woulda-coulda

“Enjoy schadenfreude at its finest as you safely experience other people's mistakes (all of them all too true.) in the world premiere of Jerry Mayer's latest play. Continuing Santa Monica Playhouse's
NOBODY'S PERFECT! But mistakes can be fixed, between husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, fathers and sons. This world premiere romantic comedy will have you laughing, crying, and racing to fix that one mistake that's been gnawing at you for years!”

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The Crucible

“Arthur Miller's “The Crucible” will begin performances at Camarillo Skyway Playhouse on April 5, 2019. Using the historical and controversial subject of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, “The Crucible” presents an allegory of events from the McCarthy Hearings of the 1950's. Reason and fact become clouded by irrational fears and the desire to place blame for society's problems on others. Especially women. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Drama from 1953, it is still a show with timely themes. Death threats, alcoholism, a women's place in society, truth vs. lies, adultery, rich vs. poor, those in power and those not, faith in God…all leading to an ending like no other. It is still considered to be one of the most powerful and important works in American drama.”

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

“24th Street Theatre, renowned for presenting sophisticated, emotionally rich and provocative theater that can be enjoyed by both adults and kids, separately or together, presents Dwayne Hartford's stage adaptation of the novel by Kate DiCamillo. In this powerful and highly stylized story, Edward Tulane is a porcelain rabbit who must learn the meaning of love: what it is to love, what it is to lose that love and how to find the courage to love again. For adults and kids 4 and up.”

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Marx in Soho

“In this funny, timely, historic and political play, Karl Marx gets a chance to stand in front of an audience for one hour and clear his name. Starring Gera Hermann and directed by Ye'ela Rosenfeld, this one-man show will make you wonder about our society and leave you with questions and ideas for many weeks to come.
The play is followed by a conversation about Marxism, lead by expert speakers and accompanied with free wine and snacks. Don't miss this opportunity to debate with strangers the future of our country and the world. This entire experience is “pay-what-you-can” and the seating is very limited.”

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Bar Mitzvah Boy

“Joey Brant is a Jewish divorce lawyer in his 60s. He has never had a bar mitzvah ceremony. He feels the need to get one now, before his grandson has his bar mitzvah. For reasons which will become clear in the story, Joey's bar mitzvah ceremony must take place at the synagogue he attended five decades ago. Joey, a thoroughly secularized man, must now re-connect with the faith of his ancestors. He promptly alienates the synagogue's regular instructor, which means that Joey must now go to the temple's rabbi for his bar mitzvah lessons.
Rabbi Michael Levitz-Sharon, a woman, finds her faith challenged at the same time that Joey is rediscovering his spiritual roots. her 11-year-old devoutly Jewish daughter has contracted terminal cancer. The daughter, Rachel, wants nothing more than to live long enough to be bat-mitzvahed. The impending tragedy is taking its toll on Rabbi Michael's marriage.
Will Joey at long last have his bar mitzvah and find his faith? Can Rabbi Michael retain her beliefs?”

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Doris and Me

“Doris and Me is subtitled One Man's Obsession with Doris Day. That man is Scott Dreier, the co-writer and star of this show. It's not hard to understand Scott's devotion: At the height of her career, Doris Day was THE biggest star in show business. She starred in 39 films, was the number one female box office star for four years, won three Golden Globes®, was nominated for an Oscar® and starred for five years in a successful TV series. She received numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Cecil B. deMille Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. She recorded 20 albums, the last released in 2011. Many of her recordings are classics of the Great American Songbook. Blessed with wholesome beauty and a curvy figure, graced with an exquisite voice and loved by the camera, Day had a career unique in the annals of show business. Since 1975, she has famously devoted herself to the cause of animal welfare.
Doris and Me is Scott Dreier's loving tribute to Day, who will have her 97th birthday during the week that this engagement opens. Dreier, himself a gifted vocalist, sings her hits with piano and bass accompaniment: Secret Love, Que Sera Sera, It's Magic, Everybody Loves a Lover, Sentimental Journey, and many more. He seamlessly weaves behind-the-scenes stories and over 75 curated images and clips from the iconic superstar's film and recording career with her beloved song hits.”

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The Country House

“One year after the death of a loved one, a family of actors gathers in their Berkshire home during the Williamstown summer theater season, wrestling with fame, art, and as always, each other. But when the events of the weekend go off-script, secrets are spilled and bonds are broken – threatening an already fragile foundation of a home brimming with old memories, new love, and discarded dreams.”

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Working the Musical

“Working is a fast-paced look at how people view their jobs, their opportunities, and themselves. With delightful pop music, laugh-out-loud jokes, and touching discoveries, it's a show you will not want to miss. Based on Studs Terkel's best-selling book of interviews with American workers, Working paints a vivid portrait of the men and women that the world so often takes for granted: the schoolteacher, the phone operator, the waitress, the millworker, the mason and the housewife, just to name a few. Nominated for six Tony Awards, this classic has been updated for a modern age, featuring new songs by Tony Award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as favorites by Stephen Schwartz, Craig Carnelia and James Taylor.”

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A Bit Much

“While on a first date, Stacy's date innocently asks her if she wants red or white wine. This “trick” question immediately sets off a tsunami of Stacy's insecurities, fueled by a history of being shot down after speaking her mind. In the instant it takes to answer that “red or white?” question, Stacy takes us on a hilarious journey of her failed relationships with men, starting in the fifth grade, when she beat her first boyfriend at wall ball during recess. After that he broke up with her. So begins an unintentionally competitive pattern with men that whenever Stacy wins at life, she loses at love. With both sides of Stacy's psyche weighing in like a comical Greek chorus, Stacy tries to figure out what men really want in a women before she answers that all important first date question, “Would you like red or white wine?”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán

“The regular season of Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán opens on Tuesday, April 2 and will run through Thursday, October 31, 2019. The venue will also host pop-up screenings during holidays and for special events between November and the first quarter of 2020...Doors open at 6:00pm and films start screening 10 minutes after sunset. Food service starts when doors open. Prices run $18 for general seating or $50 to reserve one of the limited loveseats. Loveseat guests also receive a Prosecco toast and unlimited popcorn throughout the night. The rooftop screening experience is meant to foster a date-night atmosphere so most nights are meant for guests who are 18-years of age or older.
Please be advised that access to the 4th floor roof is via an outside staircase ONLY. There is no ADA-compliant access (yet) since this 90+ year old theater does not have an elevator at this time.

Doors open at 6:00 pm, which allows attendees to DRINK an exclusive hand-crafted Ramos Sangria (or beer, wine, mix drinks); DINE thanks to Umami Burger who continues as the venue's rooftop culinary partner (serving Impossible Burgers much to the delight of many vegetarians); SNACK on freshly baked cookies by Duidough Cookie Lab; PLAY a game of giant Jenga or ham-it-up in the selfie-friendly Simple Booth area; or CHILL in a relaxing Adirondack chair or loveseat while listening to a hand-selected musical soundtrack through the KV2 Audio system and Sound Off™ 3-channel/stereo wireless noise-cancelling headphones until the movie begins just after sunset.”

Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning film Get Out

“In Universal Pictures' Get Out, a speculative thriller from Blumhouse...and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend's family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation...as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - 'Top Gun'

“As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - 'The Truman Show'

“An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - 'The Big Lebowski'

“Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - 'The Transporter'

“Frank is hired to "transport" packages for unknown clients and has made a very good living doing so. But when asked to move a package that begins moving, complications arise. ”

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Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán - 'Transporter 2'

“Mercenary Frank Martin, who specializes moving goods of all kinds, surfaces again this time in Miami, Florida when he's implicated in the kidnapping of the young son of a powerful USA official.”

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JOAN OF ART: Jordan Peele's new Horror film US, LA Fashion Week, Vegan Faire, and L.A.'s Green Tours

Jordan Peele the genius behind the film, GET OUT is back and this time, he's gone a step further. US, which I saw at a press screening the other night, opens this Friday, March 22nd and if you're a fan of this genre, then you better buy your ticket fast.

Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen.

Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for their lives. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker has the appearance of one of them. Yep they each have a Doppelgänger and so much more.

US has everything you could want in this kind of film, scares, humor, surprises and characters you can route for. Plus the ending will 'blow you' away.

After you've had your fill of scares then I suggest you hop on a bus for GREEN TOURS, the 420 Experience.

You start the tour with a visit to CCCN, a favorite of locals for its wide variety of products. Whether you're looking for edibles, flower dabs/wax concentrates, CBD or any other type of cannabis, you can be rest assured that CCCN has what you are looking for. Plus all GREEN TOUR guests will enjoy a special 10% off their entire purchase in addition to a 50% tax break from the dispensary's owner.

After that you will be taken to the grower famous for creating the strain Skywalker OG. Here you can get up close and personal with the cultivation process where you will learn firsthand how marijuana is grown for sale and consumption.

There are a few more fun stops until you get to The System, the factory warehouse for AMG (American Made Glass) where you get to see how water pipes and other glass paraphernalia are made.

Lastly guests of the tour can enjoy any products bought at the dispensary or anything you've brought along. Of course by this time you propbably have the munches so your next stop will be L.A's most renowned eateries, Fab Hot Dogs, a favorite of Los Angeles Times' Food critic Jonathon Gold.

You will ride in High Class and the price is only $89.00 for this four hours experience. To book a tour go to... greentours.com or call 1-855-TOUR-420.

Speaking of edibles, what better way to quench your appetite then to go to the VEGAN STREET FAIR on Saturday and Sunday, March 22nd and 24th 11am-7pm. The fair is located at 11223 Chandler Blvd between Tujunga and Vineland in North Hollywood.

Vegan Street Fair is a free annual all ages vegan food celebration where local vegan and vegan friendly restaurants and vendors come together to serve you bite-size portions of vegan eats and where you can see vegan wares all in one place.

People can nosh on as many small portion ($4.00 or less) or purchase larger items. This is a vegan foodie dream. I've been a vegan for the last ten years so I cannot wait for this great event.

For more information go to VeganStreetFair.com

Lastly, as much as I love food, I equally love fashion so I'm so excited to announce that this weekend is LOS ANGELES FASHION WEEK.

LA Fashion week is an organization dedicated to raising the profile of fashion in the United States with focus on the emergence of Los Angeles as one of the most important cultural cities in the world. I went last year and the clothes both for men and women are absolutely awesome.

This fashion event is a collaboration and a movement of prominent innovators that are passionate about promoting and growing the LA FASHION INDUSTRY.

For more information go to LAFW.net. The event runs from Friday March 22nd through Sunday at March 24th.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you all make it a fun one.


JOAN OF ART: Flowers, Flowers Everywhere, Stars in the Sky, St. Patrick's Day Fun and A Thrilling Cinematic Ride

Spring, my favorite time of year has arrived and because of the heavy rains, Mother Nature has graced us with some of her best work. I'm talking about the WILDFLOWERS and they are out in full force.

This weekend I'm headed for Lake Elsinore where the Poppy super blooms are ready for their close-up.

The bright orange, yellow, pink and purple California poppies are concentrated in the hills around Walker Canyon, an ecological reserve and are already in bloom attracting tons of visitors and yes, major traffic but the trip is definitely worth it.

The super bloom is a rare phenomenon in which an area's number of wildflowers exceed typical spring blooms - in this case, millions of tiny blooms popping up in typically barren deserts and canyons.

In order for a super bloom to occur there must be a perfect combination of rain and favorable temperatures, hence the rarity of the phenomenon and one you do not want to miss.

One of the reasons I travel to Lake Elsinore to see the flowers is the distance. It's only an hour away from Los Angeles. The super blooms won't be around long so you better hurry up and hop on the freeway to see this incredible sight.

Now after I've experienced the phenomena on the ground I'll be ready to see the phenomena in the sky. I'm talking about Griffith Park's monthly Public Star Party which is taking place this Saturday.

It's here you can see the moon and constellations up close and you don't even have to bring your own telescope. Head out to the Observatory's expansive lawn and check out the views through a wide variety of telescopes with savvy amateur astronomers on hand to discuss what you see through their equipment.

The views of celestial objects above and the lights of Los Angeles below makes this an incredible experience and a great family event.

To find out more about their monthly Star Parties including parking go to GriffithObservatory.org or call 213-473-0800. The event starts at 2:00 pm and runs until 9:45pm.

The Griffith Park Observatory is located at 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles CA 90027.

So after visiting the skies you might be ready for some down to earth fun and what better way to do that then to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day and that's exactly what pubs and clubs all over the town are ready to help you do, especially downtown L.A.

This event takes place Sunday March 17th from 1:00pm until 7:00pm. It starts at the Los Angeles Biergarten located at 750 South Broadway L.A. and continues onto 10 different downtown venues.

You'll get to experience 100 beers on tap and enjoy a free welcome shot. DJ's, live music and St. Patrick Day photo booth.

When you check in at LA Biergarten you will be given a wristband, St. Patrick's Day kit with a map of locations and a list of drink specials for each of the participating venues.

To find out more about this event go to Eventbrite.com:Downtown LA's St Partick's Day Party and Pub Crawl.

To find out how to access this Pub Crawl and others all over LA via Metro, visit DiscoverLosAngeles.com/things-to-do/st-patricks-day-pub-crawl-with-metro.

After all this celebrating you might be in the mood for some edge of your seat thrills and for that I highly recommend the film HOTEL MUMBAI which opens in theatres this weekend.

I went to a press screening of this film the other day and I spent the whole time sitting on the edge of my seat. This real life atrocity involved three days of multiple attacks across the city that left over 170 dead but in director Anthony Maras's chilling feature the street level shooting sprees soon segue into the carnage at the exclusive Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a Victorian gothic building overlooking the city's bay.

The film written by John Collee is not only about the terrorists aimless killing but about the heroic efforts made by the hotel staff to save the hotel guests.

The film's characters based on real people are extremely well drawn and you come to care about them greatly. This is a very thoughtful thriller that I highly recommend. It's playing at select theatres around town.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one.


JOAN OF ART: A Weekend of Superheroes, Art, Comedy and Amazing Sea Creatures

If rain has been keeping you in the house, once again the sun will be shinning this weekend and I have some fun suggestions on what to do.

First on my list is a film that I saw the other night and it's one that many of you have been waiting for...

Captain Marvel starring the wonderful Brie Larson as Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel is an American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character, Carol Danvers. The film is written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with Geneva Robertson-Dworet also contributing to the screenplay.

Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Jude Law and Annette Bening round out the cast. Oh and an awesome kitty named Goose who is right up there with my favorite characters.

Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after the Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds. The story borrows elements from Roy Thomas's 1971 'Kree-Skrull War' comic book storyline. Instead of giving anymore of the plot away, I'll just say 'Captain Marvel is everything you'd expect a super-hero to be. It has action, thrills, surprises and lots of humor. I promise, you will not be disappointed. The film opens Friday, March 8th at many theatres around town.

Another kind of art is happening this Friday evening and this event is in Pasadena.

ArtNight Pasadena returns on March 8 for a free evening of art, music and entertainment. 20 of Pasadena's most prominent arts and cultural institutions will open their doors to showcase their artwork. Munchies from some of Los Angeles' favorite food trucks will also be available for purchase, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to help support future ArtNights.

Last fall, 16,000 people gathered in excitement of ArtNight and this year expects the same. ArtNight takes place from 6 to 10 p.m.

The list of participating sites / institutions for 2019 includes Armory Center for the Arts, The Gamble House, Norton Simon Museum, the Pasadena History Museum, and more than a dozen others plus shuttle bus routes can be found by going to ArtNight Pasadena.org. I was there last year and I absolutely loved it. Great people watching as well.

As I've mentioned in my previous columns, one of my most favorite things to do involves laughter and no one does it better than THE GROUNDLINGS.

Their new show GROUNDLINGS 7 GROUNDLINGS, ATTORNEYS AT LAW is now in session representing laughter, fun and good times. The Groundlings are going to have you laughing all night with their always original and hilarious sketch and improv acts.

Director Deanna Oliver leads the Groundlings troupe which includes Matt Cook, H. Michael Croner, Josh Duvendeck, Ryan Gaul, Patty Guggenheim, Kris Kennedy, Emily Pendergast and Greg Worswick.

The show runs every Friday and Saturday night at 8pm and 10pm until April 20th 2019.. Tickets are $20.00. The Groundlings Theatre is located at 7307 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit Groundlings.com or call (323) 934-4747.

On Sunday I will be in Dana Point commuting with some of natures most exquisite sea creatures. The Whale. Now if I could only convince the creators of this event to let me jump into the ocean and swim with these extraordinary beings.

The Festival of Whales, which began last weekend, runs March 9th and 10th so you don't have much time to drive on down to Dana Point to visit this must-see event.

The festival has been going on for 48 years and besides whale watching it includes food, games and fun for the entire family.

Expert captains and certified naturalists narrate each excursion detailing the whales' movements through their national immigration path. As the originator of Whate Watching in Orange County, Dana Wharf is exclusively endorsed by world renowned marine life artist Wyland. Every trip is a new and different adventure, all showcasing the beauty of the Pacific and of course the Whales.

Excursions depart every hour on the hour from 8am to 4pm during the Festival weekends and every trip is approximately two hours.

Prices: Adults $45, Senior and Military $35. Children 3-12 years $29. Children under 7 always free.

To purchase tickets call 888-224-0603 or go to DanaWharf.com.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one.


STAGES OF DOUBT: AN ANALYSIS OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION IN AMERICAN THEATRE – PART 6 - Final

To read Part 1 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 2 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 3 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 4 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 5 of this series, please click here.

It's been fifty-five years since Oswald's three shots rang out in Dallas and their echoes still reverberate throughout our nation. In that time, the conspiracymongers have accused 42 groups and 214 individuals of involvement with the murder of JFK and have put forward the names of 82 “assassins.”

I've no doubt in the years to come additional transgressors and villains will be placed on those lists, and new titles added to catalogue of “Assassination Dramas.”

The suspicions, paranoia and dissemblance of some have seemingly diminished the gravitas due the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while the shallowness and gullibility of others have rendered their historical awareness the death of America's 35th president to the level of a National Enquirer headline. For many the idea of a conspiracy is not a matter of study, evidence or plausibility, it is a matter of faith.

Not long ago I was at a pool party, when a casual remark on my part disparaging Oliver Stone's JFK brought on an onslaught by another guest.

Let's call him Don.

Don defended Stone, his film and ranked Garrison as the greatest American since Honest Abe.

Needless to say he was strident in his insistence that Oswald was innocent and that a vast and malevolent conspiracy was behind it all. As with all “True Believers” facts are meaningless, and I began to feel like Michael Palin facing John Cleese in the “Argument Clinic.”

Finally I put to him, “What proof, what evidence, would it take to convince you that Oswald was guilty?”

He snapped back, “There isn't any, because he's not!”

And there you go. The same mindset that denies the holocaust ever happened, insists FDR knew of the pending attack on Pearl Harbor, that NASA faked the moon landing, maintains 9-11 was an inside job, that Barack Obama was not a US citizen, that Hillary operated a child brothel in the basement of a pizza parlor, that the “deep state” is undermining Donald Trump's presidency and believes that the plays of Shakespeare were actually written by some guy named Rollo Gobermouche.

University of Miami political scientist and conspiracy theory researcher Joseph Uscinski warned that “Conspiracy theories are becoming part of our national dialogue.”

The danger here is all too present in our society. The maxim to “question authority” is sound, but to outright dismiss authority is fraught with peril. Hence the cancerous concept of “Fake News” and the hazardous inclination to put one's trust in the opinions of personalities and reject those of the experts.

That everyone is entitled to their own opinion is one of the bedrocks of this nation, but that foundation will be irrevocably damaged if we come to accept that everyone is also entitled to their own “facts.”

Sadly, it is as Eric Hoffer observed that one of humanity's great failings is that most people can only be completely certain about that which they know absolutely nothing about.

In her seminal book Virtues of the Mind (1996) Linda Zagzebski lists the barriers to sound inquiry and judicious appraisal as gullibility, close-mindedness, lack of thoroughness, rigidity, negligence, carelessness, prejudice, obtuseness and insensitivity to detail. These “intellectual vices” are the hallmark of the conspiracy minded.

There are those who readily point to the fact that the most recent polls suggest that over 2/3 of the country believe that some conspiracy was behind the events in Dallas as if this in some way establishes the historical facts. But to quote Robert Ingersoll “- majorities count for nothing. Truth has always dwelt with the few.”

Today the Assassination has become the great national Rorschach test for Americans. They look at the events that occurred on November 22nd, 1963 in the city of Dallas, and what they perceive tells you more about them than the ink blots. The ink blots never change.

And the ink blots say, “Oswald. Only Oswald. Nobody else but Oswald.”


  • Howard Brennan, a forty-five year old steam fitter had been standing across the street from the Book Depository on Friday November 22nd to watch the presidential motorcade.  Looking up he saw a man in the window of the sixth floor holding a rifle, just as the motorcade turned onto the street, the shots that killed the president immediately followed.  In the confusion afterwards it was Brennan who first directed the police to the Book Depository and provided them with a description of the man in the window, the information he provided would be broadcast over both channels of the Dallas Police radio.  Twenty-three minutes later, Patrol Officer J.D. Tippit pulled his squad car to a stop near the intersection of Patton and Tenth Street to question a man who matched the Brennan's description of the shooter. It was Lee Harvey Oswald. Witnesses observed Oswald fatally shooting Tippit before fleeing the scene. At Oswald's third lineup Brennan would claim he couldn't be sure Oswald was the man he had seen in the sixth floor window prior to Kennedy's assassination.  He would later confess before the Warren Commission that he had recognized Oswald as the man he saw in the window, but feared if he came forward as a witness that he would be placing his family in danger.
  • For my comparison review of JFK and Parkland see: TheTVolution.com/2015/04/parkland-and-jfk-two-views-of-the-assassination
  • For a fascinating debunking of the film JFK go to McAdams.posc.mu.edu/jfkmovie.htm
  • The “magic bullet” is only “magical” to those having no experience with firearms.  If you want an education in what bullets do once fired, I recommend you watch The Magic Bullet, Episode 2 from the first season of Forensic Files.
  • It should also be noted that Robert Caro, after 36 years of intense research into Lyndon Johnson, stated he found no indication whatsoever of an assassination plot.

Free Los Tres! Free Los Tres! - Part 2

COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program,) the program run by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI tracked, harassed and disrupted or destroyed political organizations considered subversive, and the Chicano movement was one of their biggest targets. Momentum was lost, people gave up, got burned out, and with the passage of time, the story of Free Los Tres was largely forgotten.

The play doesn't try to turn Los Tres into larger than life legends, or some kind of barrio superheroes blasting away at The Man, riddling him with bullets. That would be silly, not to mention propaganda instead of storytelling. They are flawed characters, and the play lets you decide whether their intentions or actions were appropriate.

Carmelo tells me about a saying women used in the barrio – me puta ni santa, I am not a saint, but I'm not a whore either. "We're not saying we are saints or holier than thou, but that we're normal," Carmelo says. "We have temptations, we are human beings, and that nobody is 100 percent good or evil." On one hand, the authorities called Los Tres vigilantes and criminals. But on the other hand, and there are thousand shades of grey in between these two extremes, Los Tres believed they were protecting a neighborhood that was under assault. Carmelo says the shooting was not premeditated, and Los Tres carried weapons because they were dealing with a drug dealer – and that shortly after Los Tres got busted, the gates to the drugs opened.

"The neighborhood I grew up in – Pico Gardens and Aliso Village – after they squashed the movement and locked us up and things kind of died down----that area became known as 31 Flavors. You could get anything there, from drugs to guns,"Beto says. The gangs became more powerful and the violence in Boyle Heights got out of control, with cliques from 1st to 4th Street killing each other.

The drug problem today is overwhelming. The so-called "War on Drugs" failed because arresting dealers didn't work as long as the demand was so high and another replacement was willing to step up. Small towns across America, but particularly in Rust Belt states like Ohio and West Virginia, are being decimated by an epidemic of opioid abuse. Drugs overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, the worst year ever. That's nearly 200 people a day (there was a decline of overdose deaths in 2018, perhaps a sign the epidemic has peaked.)

When I asked Carmelo if the drug epidemic could have been stopped by a few men protecting their neighborhood, he said the idea was never that they could stop the entire drug problem. If Los Tres and others took care of their own barrio, and if other communities began to do the same, they could start a movement and slow if not stop the influx of drugs.

"When you give power to the people, when you let them handle it, the community can take control of the neighborhood and make it better," Carmelo says.

Photo courtesy Alberto Ortiz

Before the bust, this was already happening: Boyle Heights activists were educating people in the projects, circulating petitions and bridging divisions, and Rudy thinks this sense of purpose may have attracted the attention of the authorities. "Also at that time, a lot of barrios were coming together – there was unity, there was even unity with theAmerican Indian movement, we were beginning to work with other organizations, the hippies, whatever--" and he believes this very unity was seen as a threat.

Rudy says an article called Strange Rumbling in Aztlan by Hunter S. Thompson(HST) also may have brought the Feds attention around to the neighborhood. It was published in Rolling Stone on April 29, 1971, just eight months after L.A. Times reporter Ruben Salazar was killed during the Moratorium march and rally against the Vietnam War.

Salazar was only tangentially involved with the Chicano Movement, but he became a martyr for it after a Sheriff's deputy blew his head off with a tear gas canister fired through the door of the Silver Dollar Cafe in East L.A., the now defunct spot located a little less than four miles from where Casa 0101 is today. Tensions in the community were very high as evidence emerged that contradicted the official version of Salazar's death, suggesting a cover-up.

Rudy is mentioned and quoted in Strange Rumblings, which like all of Thomson's best work, mixes strong reporting and novelistic attention to detail with tales of his crazy but always entertaining antics. Rudy is not the center of that particular story, however.

He came from a pro-Union family and says he was politically conscious from an early age. His parents joined protests against unsafe working conditions and unequal wages at the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico; they are featured in the 1954 film Salt of the Earth, which recreated the strike using real participants as actors in the movie. Rudy grew up in Estrada Courts, a low-income housing project in Boyle Heights.

He had been in juvenile hall and in the prison system; he knew La Eme (the Mexican Mafia) and they knew him, and he had a drug problem. He started reading in prison and had an awakening. He sobered up, got out of jail and got involved in the Chicano Movement after he met Oscar Zeta Acosta, an attorney who defended scores of activists from East L.A.

Acosta was also the inspiration for Dr. Gonzo, HST's partner in crime through the drug-fueled odyssey depicted in Fear and Loathing in Law Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. HST met Acosta when he was writing "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan" and they took that Vegas road-trip partly to escape the pressure surrounding the Salazar case.

Rudy became Acosta's bodyguard. He met Free Los Tres through Acosta and some of his associates, gradually seeing the Chicano organization as more serious and his political involvement deepened. The set-up came soon after. "They weren't interested in me when I was running around the hood, but they sure came after me this time," Rudy says.

The trial of Los Tres may not have attracted as much notice outside of Boyle Heights and in the Anglo world because it didn't have the mystique, and the depraved glamour of the Manson trial. East Los Angeles even today is not paid its due. Most stories about Los Angeles are set on the Westside (after covering Boyle Heights, HST writes of his discomfort at ordering a drink at the Beverly Hills Hotel because he was "oriented to a completely different world – 15 miles away.)

Outside of some coverage by the Herald Examiner, the case didn't get noticed by a mainstream media obsessed with a celebrity serial killer. Manson is a legend, but Free Los Tres were three guys from the barrio, and they were not civil rights icons like Bert Corona or Cesar Chavez. They never wanted the story to be about them. We were just soldiers for the movement they might say.

It was a time of different values in places like Boyle Heights – people didn't necessarily aspire to be famous or gaudily rich, and there was of course no social media. These were working class people who wanted to make their communities safer and gain access for their people, achieve equality. Even now Beto says he is hesitant to be in the limelight – but Carmelo told him that you need to embrace your origins.

The trial itself was a farce. "Let me tell you, it was a goddamn Kangaroo court, that's the way I saw it at the time," Rudy says. His mentality then was that he was a political prisoner and the cops, prosecutors and the judge were the enemy.

"What I remember from the trial is that the judge, out of 27 motions we had, he denied all of them. He allowed like 5 of our witnesses out of twenty (we wanted to bring to the stand.)" says Beto. They were silenced at every step. "We never had a chance to tell our story. And we knew we were doomed," Beto says. "It got to the point where when the bailiff came and out said all rise, we wouldn't rise cause he (the judge) wasn't respecting us, so we turned around and didn't give him respect either."

They were released on bail after two years, pending the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals review. One year later they were rearrested. Their sentences were eventually reduced by 25 years after a charge of violating the Federal Law known as the Jesse James Act was dropped. Each served about eight years in prison before finally being freed.

When I see Free Los Tres on preview night it is a small crowd, and there are the usual glitches in performance and technical quality of a show going through last-minute tunings before its opening. The play begins with the actors playing Los Tres entering in chains, and there are many potent images throughout the show, but I do have some reservations. I don't believe this play has quite gotten the story down to its essence – but my qualms about the productions are terribly unimportant compared to what people from the neighborhood have said about Free Los Tres.

When I talk to a few people leaving the preview, they are all beaming, and yes of course some of that is because they are friends or family of the cast, but this is something more I think. One family I spoke with were excited to see a story about people from their own neighborhood, and they'd never heard of Free Los Tres before attending the play. They'd been to Casa 0101 only once before, but many of their friends already had tickets to see the show. Sold-out houses followed throughout the run, and a standing ovation ended each performance. Activists from the era reunited in the lobby, and their families came too: Beto, Rudy and Johnny's sons, all juniors, were there, and they were taken aback by how close the actors portrayals matched their memories of their fathers. This is a testament to the power of storytelling.

Casa 0101 has been telling the stories of this neighborhood for nearly 19 years. Located on East 1st Street just across the street from a police station, the interior has an inviting warmth, the gallery in the lobby displaying images from local artists. You begin to get a sense of all the history found in this neighborhood, and realize that this is not just a theater, it's a community resource.

Casa 0101's existence unfortunately has been tenuous of late – as what is unique about Boyle Heights is threatened by another wave of white gentrification, and the theater has suffered financial setbacks and the loss of its 99-seat theater waiver. So far they are surviving--they have created theater on a low budget for years, mostly relying on volunteers from the community, but costs have gone up They have come up with a novel solution that has kept them going so far--they are seeking 350 donors to give them $25 a month, and so far they have found just over half.

Neither Rudy nor Beto live in Boyle Heights anymore, and the area has changed so much. Beto says when he grew up everybody knew each other in the projects. During Halloween, they used to have bonfires at the 4th Street gym, and everyone would come out. There were games too, like putting $50 at the top of a greased up pole and seeing if anyone could climb far enough without slipping to grab the cash. Now Beto is still leery of going there alone, although violence in the projects is down since the 80's and 90's. "I'm kind of scared to go in there now because one day I was driving thru there, coming home from work and reminiscing, and about ten guys tried to stop my car, but since I knew the area, I got out of there right away."

"One of my grandkids told her grandpa that he didn't know grandpa was a legend in the chicano movement," Beto says, laughing at the memory. "We didn't seek to be legends in the Chicano movement, it was an incident that happened and the organizations we were working with stepped up and supported us and defended us and created this whole movement behind Los Tres," he says. For his part, Rudy finds it wonderful to see the story come alive for him and his children, as well as people from the neighborhood who haven't heard about Los Tres before – lamenting only that his mother has already passed away and didn't live to see the story reborn in this play.

The story isn't over quite yet. Carmelo has already talked about turning the Free Los Tres into a film and Beto has begun working on a book with Professor Victor Viesca of Cal State Los Angeles. It's almost, to steal a line from Beto, like they can't quite get rid of Los Tres del Barrio. Maybe no one outside of Boyle Heights will notice Free Los Tres, or maybe it will become an inspiration for a new generation of activists, perhaps both. "If we can throw another yell, let's throw another yell out there," Rudy says, and for a story that has been asleep for 47 years, it's the telling that matters.


Lemon Butter: The Third Annual Oscar® Film Week Returns to 'Culina' at 'The Four Seasons' to Benefit the 'Lollipop Theater Network'

Culina at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills will once again feature a Dinner and a Movie or a Pronto Market Lunch and Matinee of the eight 2019 “Best Picture” Oscar®-nominated films in their Third Annual Oscar® Film Week,  from Tuesday, February 19, 2019, through Saturday, February 23, 2019.

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu
The 3rd Annual Oscar Film Week at Culina at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, February 9, 2019.

The package includes a very special Culina Three-Course Prix-Fixe Dinner by Chef de Cuisine Luca Moriconi, or the Culina Pronto Market Lunch and matinee, leading up to this year's 91st Academy Awards. Dinner is served in their dining room, where an adjacent private off-patio screening room awaits for the day's scheduled Oscar®-nominated film screening.

The 3rd Annual Oscar Film Week at Culina at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills will partially benefit the Lollipop Theater Network, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to bringing the magic of movies to children confined to hospitals nationwide due to chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

"Working with leading motion picture studios, the Lollipop Theater Network delivers the season's biggest blockbusters while they are still in theaters directly to those children and their families at the hospital, bringing the joy, magic, and momentary escape of the movies to those who need it most."

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu
The Polpo Grigliato of tender charred octopus, smoked potatoes, green beans, watercress, and cauliflower purée frisée Culina at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, February 9, 2019.

With thirty-seven-seats, the unique dining and intimate movie experience combine the luxury of fully reclining leather chairs with a side table for cocktails and snacks, a plush blanket, and old-time fresh machine-popped complimentary popcorn which guests can customize with specialty seasonings. Themed cocktails and wine by the glass or bottle can be ordered from the bar service and movie theater boxed candy is also available for purchase.

The adjacent cozy cocktail patio just outside the theater and dining room, surrounded by lush greens, water wall fountain and warm lamps, or the cocktail bar and lounge of warm woods, red lounge chairs, and gold appointments and wine cellar, make for perfect après film conversation.

Chef Moriconi has created a three-course prix-fixe menu that includes a chose of an Antipasti, such as the Burrata Invernale prepared with beets, mustard greens, red wine vinegar, and duck prosciutto, the Zuppa Ribollita made of Tuscan vegetables, Borlotti beans, garlic, and roasted ciabatta, or the Polpo Grigliato of tender charred octopus, smoked potatoes, green beans, watercress, and cauliflower purée frisée. There is the Secondi course as well, which includes three choices starting with the Nastri al Cinghiale, a rich dish featuring handmade pappardelle, braised wild boar sugo, and pecorino, the Pollo al Marsala accompanied by white asparagus, celery root, potato purée, and marsala jus, or the Branzino Alla Matin-Ara with roasted branzino, fingerling potatoes, artichoke Taggiasca olives, cherry tomatoes, and asparagus. For Dolci, a choice of the Crème Caramel served with citrus lemon sorbet and coconut meringue or the Tiramisu prepared with espresso meringue and chocolate crisp.  The three-course prix-fixe menu is $59 per person, which includes the screening.

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu
The Nastri al Cinghiale, of handmade pappardelle, braised wild boar sugo, and pecorino at Culina at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Guests attending either of the Saturday Matinee Screenings will enjoy the Culina Pronto Market Lunch which is a specially curated Farmers Market inspired buffet including a selection of salads, cheese, and charcuterie with a choice of protein, along with specialty desserts, fresh fruit and other delectable treats.  The Culina Pronto Market Lunch is $35 per person, which includes the screening.

Notable highlights from the dinner menu, off-prix-fixe, menu items is the Pappardelle Ripiene. Chef Moriconi's own creation of Pappardelle pasta–wide, flat pasta filled with Tuscan Kale and ricotta encased ravioli-style–then tossed in fresh sage butter and topped with a saffron sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano, and crispy Tuscan Kale. The Risotto is served table-side, hot from a cheese wheel with scrapes of cheese from within the wheel. Two of the dishes–the Tortelli Lucchesi of roasted beef with prosciutto stuffed pasta, thyme, braised beef sugo, and the Nastri al Cinghiale, featuring handmade pappardelle, braised wild boar sugo, and Pecorino cheese (the latter included as part of prix-fixe)–are both dishes close to Chef Moriconi's heart and home based on local and family dishes from his native Tuscany. Both of the meat dishes paired beautifully with the 2015 Tenuta di Valgiano Palistorti Colline Lucchesi, Tuscany, suggested.

A crowd-pleaser with its toasted meringue and popular for special occasions for Dolci is the Mango Vanilla Baked Alaska with Grand Marnier Flambé which bursts with the fruit and richness of the liquor. But the "Cococado," with its creamy, light avocado ice cream, vegan brownie, and chocolate avocado mousse, is a star! For the chocolate avocado mousse, bananas are added to create a smooth, truffle-like texture combined with avocado. This vibrantly decorated "Cococado" boasts a mere 295 calories for the entire shareable dessert! Both desserts are also off-prix-fixe menu and on the standard dessert menu.

The 3rd Annual Four Seasons Culina Oscar Film Week Schedule:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019: “A STAR IS BORN

Dinner at 6:00 pm followed by Movie at 8:00 pm

"In “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga fuse their considerable talents to depict the raw and passionate tale of Jack and Ally, two artistic souls coming together, on stage and in life. Theirs is a complex journey through the beauty and the heartbreak of a relationship struggling to survive." - A Star is Born

Wednesday, February 20, 2019: “THE FAVOURITE

Dinner at 6:00 pm followed by Movie at 8:00 pm

"Early 18th century England is at war with the French.  Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving.  A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper.  When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at return to her aristocratic roots.  As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen's companion.  Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way. " - The Favourite

Thursday, February 21, 2019: “VICE

Dinner at 6:00 pm followed by Movie at 8:00 pm

"The story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as we know it. VICE explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today."  - Vice

Friday, February 22, 2019: “BLACKKKLANSMAN

Movie at 5:30 pm followed by Dinner at 8:00 pm

"It's the early 1970s, a time of great social upheaval as the struggle for civil rights rages on. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, but his arrival is greeted with skepticism and open hostility by the department's rank and file. Undaunted, Stallworth resolves to make a name for himself and a difference in his community. He bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. Posing as a racist extremist, Stallworth contacts the group and soon finds himself invited into its inner circle...cultivates a relationship with the Klan's Grand Wizard, David Duke (Topher Grace) embarking on an "undercover investigation growing ever more complex." - BlacKkKlansman

Friday, February 22, 2019: “BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Dinner at 6:30 pm followed by Movie at 8:30 pm

"Bohemian Rhapsody is an enthralling celebration of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), who defied stereotypes and convention to become one of history's most beloved entertainers. Following Queen's meteoric rise, their revolutionary sound and Freddie's solo career, the film also chronicles the band's reunion, and one of the greatest performances in rock history." - Bohemian Rhapsody

Saturday Matinee, February 23, 2019: “BLACK PANTHER

Lunch at 10:30 am followed by Movie at 12:00 noon

"Marvel Studios' “Black Panther” follows T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda (T'Chaka; John Kani) returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life." - Black Panther

Saturday Matinee, February 23, 2019: “ROMA

Lunch at 1:30 pm followed by Movie at 3:00 pm

"The most personal project to date from Academy Award®-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien), ROMA follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s." - Roma

Saturday, February 23, 2019: “GREEN BOOK

Dinner at 6:00 pm followed by Movie at 8:00 pm

"When Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime. " - Green Book

The 3rd Annual Oscar Film Week at Culina at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is February 19, 2019, through Sunday, February 23, 2019. The 3rd Annual Oscar Film Week Dinner and a Movie is $59 per person and The 3rd Annual Oscar Film Week Pronto Market Lunch and Matinee Movie is $35 per person. For more information and to make reservations, please call Culina at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills directly at 310-860-4000.

Featured photo by Monique A. LeBleu
The "Cococado" with chocolate avocado mousse, vegan brownie, and avocado ice cream at Culina at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, February 9, 2019.


Free Los Tres! Free Los Tres! - Part 1

"The people in their quest for a better life have the right to destroy the forces that threaten their survival." Origin unknown.

There are some stories that become legends, and we tell them over and over again. But there are other stories that are just as moving and powerful that we forget to tell. Sometimes those stories are found again, and in the telling we may wonder why we forgot them at all.

Free Los Tres! is a shout of defiance. It is also the name of a new play, and it is a powerful and sometimes flawed reminder of an essential moment in the history of Boyle Heights and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. The story is very complex, spanning years and taking some of its dialogue directly from thousands of pages of court transcripts.

The play has already triggered a new reckoning of the events it depicts. It ran for only four weeks at CASA 0101 in Boyle Heights, but Free Los Tres! has been embraced by a community hungry for stories about their culture and history. The show sold-out every night of its run.

Rudolfo "Rudy" Sanchez, Alberto "Beto" Ortiz and Juan "Johnny" Fernandez – Los Tres del Barrio– were Chicano activists, and members of a community organization called La Casa de Carnalismo that wanted to drive drug dealers out of East Los Angeles. They were convicted of assaulting an undercover federal narcotics officer posing as a drug dealer in 1971. Los Tres became a rallying point for a community and a movement.

Photo courtesy Alberto Ortiz

We are living in a time that doesn't allow us to entertain any sentimentality about how far we have come; instead, with the reemergence of white supremacy, and the scapegoating of immigrants who are called criminals and thugs, Free Los Tres! confronts how far backwards we have actually gone. Those times are our times.

"It's not that I don't want people to forget it, it's that I want them to identify it with what is happening today," says Carmelo Alvarez, who directed and co-wrote the project with Beto and Miguel Lopez Vigil. He is an eclectic man, and a natural storyteller perhaps best known for founding Radiotron, the iconic hip hop venue and youth center that was located near MacArthur Park. He has also worked as a youth advocate for more than 40 years, creating a dozen spaces where kids can learn about culture and art, and find shelter from the gangs, violence and drugs out on the streets. He lives simply, completely devoted to making his art: Free Los Tres is his passion project.

I met Carmelo when I was researching a script dense with thehistory of downtown Los Angeles and cultural issues like homelessness. A mutual friend introduced us because Carmelo is an aficionado of local history, and during our first meeting, we spoke for more than two hours. Somewhere along the way, between being peppered with my questions and barely pausing while I frantically scribbled notes, he told me about Free Los Tres.

The script was still too long – about 170 pages – and he was cutting and cutting material. He seemed inundated with information, still sorting the piece out, which would in the end take about 18 months.

He had been looking for the story for years.

He became aware of Free Los Tres when he was 14 and catching the bus to school. The bus stop was near the courthouse where the Charles Manson trial was concluding, and he saw young women with shaved heads and X's carved in their forehead – Manson girls protesting his death sentence (later overturned.) The trial for Los Tres began just as the Manson's ended, and when Carmelo looked across the street, he saw another group of people holding signs and heard cries of "Free Los Tres!". The image stayed with him, and he wanted to know more.

Other stories about the Chicano movement have become celebrated, even iconic. Long before they became part of Los Tres, Johnny and Beto joined the high school walkouts of 1968. Thousands of students from Theodore Roosevelt High and other East L.A. schools protested against inequality in the Los Angeles Unified School District: classrooms were overcrowded and understaffed, and activists charged that the curriculum ignored their experience entirely.

A year later they the also joined the Chicano Moratorium, an Anti-Vietnam War movement which organized several protests, the largest of which drew more than 30,000 protestors on August 29, 1970-- an essential date in Los Angeles history, and the same day LA Times reporter Ruben Salazar was killed. The war was placing a heavy burden on East L.A. communities like Boyle Heights as Chicanos were being drafted and killed at higher rates than other ethnic groups. The Moratorium was a continuation of what started with the walkouts; young activists taking to the streets to rally against injustice.

Moises Rodriguez (Rudy), Joshua Nicholas (Johnny) and Alex Anthony Correa (Beto) as Los Tres del Barrio. Photo by Rosa Navarrete

"They made a movie about the walkouts and the moratorium is celebrated every year, but this story has been hidden for 47 years," says Carmelo. He wanted to know why. Little has been written about Los Tres. An internet search finds only an excerpt from a book which mentioned Los Tres very briefly, and also a few pictures and flyers from the era– but nothing cohesive, only fragments that hinted at the story he knew was there.

He kept looking, but the play might never have happened but for a chance encounter in 2017. Carmelo was at a funeral paying his respects to a relative who'd been a Chicano activist. He was talking to his cousin, who'd also been involved in the movement, and mentioned he was writing a play about Los Tres. Do you know where I can find them? "Do I know them, his cousin said, Dude, I know those guys, I was on the Committee to Free Los Tres!" An introduction was arranged. 

Shortly thereafter, Carmelo met Beto and Rudy, and they gave him permission to write the script. Beto collaborated closely on the script with Carmelo – he had saved pictures and letters from members of the Committee to Free Los Tres, still in their envelopes more than 40 years later. Beto spent months getting the trial transcripts, nearly 3000 pages. He painstakingly copied them one page at a time. Those pages were very delicate, sometimes stuck together. Beto's memories of that time had grown fuzzy he says, but as Carmelo picked at his brain they began to resurface. First they worked from memory, then they began interviewing committee members. They wanted the play to become something beyond a history lesson– Free Los Tres is a call to action.

"We're kind of hoping that this will inspire the youths of today because I see the play being for this generation now, for those who didn't know or never heard about it, and we want to let them know how the conditions were back then and hopefully it will inspire them to get involved," Beto said when interviewed with Rudy at Casa 0101 just before rehearsals began late last year. "The issues have multiplied instead of diminished," Rudy said, in no small part, he believes, because of the current president.

Los Tres were very young when the confrontation took place, Rudy being the oldest of them at just 26. Beto and Rudy are the two surviving members of Los Tres (Johnny passed away in 2012) and they remain politically committed: attending rallies and marches, and still consider themselves pro-immigrant and pro-undocumented. "We're native born here," Beto says, "and it gets me upset that people are saying go back to Mexico because we never crossed the border. Our people didn't cross it and the Indians never did – the border crossed us."

Photo courtesy Alberto Ortiz

Every play has its premise, its own life as Carmelo says, and Free Los Tres asks, do the ends justify the means, and when is it okay to take the law into your own hands. And what actions are ethical if the guys carrying badges are committing illicit acts themselves? The authorities were infiltrating the community, trying to disrupt the movement, beating suspects, and intimidating witnesses – but their actions were considered legal, at least at the time.

"That's not justice, that's not legal, so they're breaking the law," Carmelo says. "And they send in informants and infiltrators – is this legal? Why is it legal to infiltrate into a community and bring in arms, and tell them you need to fight them, you need to shoot the pigs, we need to have an armed revolution? Informants were paid to tell the movement these things. So in this case, the government was doing things under the color of law, but they're not ethical, they're right in the law of true justice, or true humanity."

There is another message to this story: drugs have been been used as a tool of suppression to, as Beto says, "keep our people drugged up and killing each other." Los Tres had already helped circulate a petition asking local shops to stop selling glue to kids in the neighborhood, and were working to get rid of the heavier stuff too – angel dust, reds and heroin. The movement believed the cops were at worst abetting the problem and at best doing nothing to stop it.

Carmelo takes this from an abstract idea to something more personal, an analogy that puts the question on what you might do to protect your own family. "If someone takes drugs into the community and you do something about it, you say, hey, don't be selling that shit to my sister, get the fuck out of here, and then somebody moves into your neighborhood, and befriends you, and says I'll take care of your sister, but he starts giving her drugs, and he's doing it under the color of the law, is that legal?"

Los Tres began chasing drug dealers out of the neighborhood and for awhile Beto says it was working. They were partly inspired by the film Battle of Algiers, the 1966 film showing the guerrilla resistance against French colonizers. Rudy saw it when he was in prison, and it transformed his life and inspired his actions. The group would approach a drug dealer, tell them we don't want you selling your junk here, and then intimidate them into leaving.

They did not initiate the meeting with the undercover agent. Rudy was contacted by a man who wanted to sell him drugs. In the play we see this exchange as two backlit figures behind a scrim, two shadows arranging to meet for a drug deal. "We didn't go there to shoot the guy or kill the guy or anything like that, we went there to run him out of the neighborhood," said Beto, but the transaction turned into a confrontation.

We see this incident several times during the play, reminiscent of Rashomon, the 1950 Akira Kurosawa film that demonstrated the slippery nature of truth. The shooting is dramatized from several different perspectives, especially during the court scenes when the actors rearrange themselves as the testimony continues behind them. This is a bit awkwardly staged, but it's very funny when we see the actor playing the undercover agent enter on a moving cart with giant handlebars representing a lowrider motorcycle.

There is controversy about how many shots were fired, was it three or was it two. We do know that the officer did not identify himself as a federal agent or show his badge before reaching for his weapon ("if he'd shown one we wouldn't be sitting here talking," Carmelo told me.) Get of the neighborhood, Los Tres told him, and they demanded he give up his drug money. The cop, perhaps panicking, dropped his wallet to the ground, the money scattering, and reached for his weapon. Carmelo believes the agent expected Los Tres to go for the money. Seeing his weapon, they opened fire on him, and from there the incident gets even murkier.

There were four backup agents waiting in a car, and when they heard the gunshots they came running to the scene, the first of them arriving maybe 10 seconds later. Three claimed they didn't have weapons with them – they said they had left them in the car – one of them using the rationale he didn't have his weapon because he had taken off his shirt to blend in within the community (his exact words taken from the transcripts.)

"You're the backup agent, but yet you leave your gun in the car?" Carmelo asks me incredulously, wondering if there might be a motive for this, if it wasn't really an accident. We do not know the answer to that question, but even more mysterious is who fired the shot that hit the agent. Beto and Johnny each fired once, but there was a third shot that isn't clear what weapon it came from, and no ballistics tests were done, except on Johnny's weapon, and the results were inconclusive.

"Why didn't anyone question that," Carmelo says, "if you go up to anyone on the street, and you say three backup cops didn't have their gun, they'd say...what??"

Photo courtesy Alberto Ortiz

The shooting, this one brief incident, lasting maybe 30 seconds or so according to Alvarez, had long reverberations. "That one minute transformed their life," Carmelo says. "That one split second incident unraveled a lot of things." Chicano activists considered Los Tres political prisoners, and believed they that had been set up by the Federal government and other authorities intent on dismantling the movement (and indeed anyone considered subversive or radical.) The National Committee to Free Los Tres eventually merged with a community center called CASA (Centro De Accion Social Autonomo) and fought for the release of the three activists. They were triumphant, but so much had already been lost in the long, slow struggle in the courts and on the streets.

Los Tres were arrested when the Chicano Civil Rights movement was at its height, but by the time they were released in in the late 70's, it was badly weakened, it's many factions beginning to splinter apart, its fragile unity having been wounded by years of governmental intimidation as much as ideological differences.

...to be continued


Stages of Doubt: An Analysis of The Kennedy Assassination In American Theatre - PART 1

Over the half century since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the public has been inundated with the ink of upwards of 2,000 publications confronting or concerned with the findings of the Warren Commission. These range from Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment the first publication (1966) to bedung a susceptible public with spurious claims of a conspiracy and cover-up to Vincent Bugliosi's 1,632 page encyclopedic Reclaiming History (2007) which lays to rest once any questions or doubts about the assassination for all but the most fanatical and dogmatic of conspiracy theorists (henceforth referred to as “CT”).

Hundreds of documentaries of course have delved into the assassination though few approached the subject with the consideration and conscientiousness it merits.

And numerous featured films such as Clint Eastwood's Line of Fire (1993) and William Richert's Winter Kills (1979) have employed the assassination in various manners as the catalyst to their story's plotline.

These films have generally fallen into the categories of “action-adventure” or “thriller,” but there have been exceptions. Robert Dyke's Timequest (2000) offers the unique storyline of a scientist (Ralph Waite) who as a child watching Kennedy's funeral becomes obsessed with the grieving Jackie, causing him to dedicate his life to building a means of time travel so that he can return to 1963 and save Jackie from the pain of her husband's murder by preventing it. He succeeds in this and by revealing to Bobby the conspiracy against his brother's life changes history. But now, without the impetus of witnessing Jackie's grief, the scientist's own destiny is altered and his life takes an entirely different course. One of the film's high points is the alternative history Dyke conjures up resulting from the assassination being foiled which includes JFK dropping Johnson from the ticket for his second term and replacing him with Martin Luther King Jr.

Regrettably the majority of films concerning the assassination, regardless of their genre, are as disconnected from reality as Dyke's sci-fi, and far less entertaining.

An exception to this, one of the very few, is director Peter Landesman's Parkland (2013). A former war correspondent, Landesman delved into the chaos surrounding the assassination and the two days that followed, by setting his story in the trenches with those who were there. His film featured strong performances by Zac Efron as Dr Charles Carrico, the 28 year old resident in charge of Parkland Hospital's emergency room where the mortally wounded Kennedy was brought, Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder whose life was forever changed by 486 frames of an 8-millimeter film, and James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald, Lee's older brother who never doubted his younger sibling's guilt.

The theatre, too, has undertaken to address and investigate the tragic events of Dallas, with the results of these reflecting the diversity of approaches such as only can be devised for and delivered from the stage.

Surprisingly, the first attempt by a dramatist to delve into the murder of America's 35th president was a British playwright whose work to this day remains one of the strongest on the subject.

Michael Hastings was among that cluster of writers and playwrights - John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, Harold Pinter and others - who rose to prominence in the United Kingdom following World War II and were known collectively as the “angry young men.”

The youngest of them, Hastings was the last to win recognition as a talent worthy of note.

He did so with Lee Harvey Oswald: A Far Mean Streak of Indepence [sic] Brought on by Negleck [sic], produced in 1966 at the Hampstead Theatre Club. It was Hastings' first commercial and critical success.

The unwieldy title is taken from a passage that appears in an account Oswald wrote about the period he lived in Russia. Written in the third person, his description of himself reveals more than the dyslexia that plagued him throughout his life; “Lee Harvey Oswald was born in Oct 1939 in New Orleans, LA. The son of an Insurance Salesman whose early death left a far mean streak of indepence brought on by neglect.”

For convenience later productions were generally billed simply as Lee Harvey Oswald.

Hastings immersed himself in the historical record, reading the Warren Report and pouring over the supporting evidence contained in its 26 volumes. His play relies heavily on testimonies taken from its 552 witnesses, especially those of Oswald's overbearing and unbalanced mother Marguerite, and his Russia born wife Marina.

As Shakespeare encased his voice of history in “Chorus” for Henry V, Hastings embodies the investigating tribunal appointed by President Johnson in the single character of “the Commission.”

With “the Commission” constantly injecting questions, Hastings leads us down a patchwork rabbit hole constructed from extracts taken from the Warren Report. Hastings reveals Oswald as terrorized by his own sense of insignificance, and enraged at the world for refusing to acknowledge him. Oswald saw himself as someone meant for greatness. When the Warren Commission counsel asked Marina what she thought induced her husband to kill the president, she answered, “He wanted in any way, whether good or bad, to do something that would make him outstanding, that he would be known in history.” Hastings' Oswald would finally claim, from the Book Depository's corner window, the greatness he believed was due him.

In 1967, the assassination arrived on an American stage with the satirical MacBird! by Barbara Garson, which has the distinction of being the first to re-work the tragic events in a Shakespearian mold.

Garson turned to a wide assortment of the Bard's works Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello and even Richard II to supply her with the linguistic stenciling she needed, but for overall structure and plotting she stayed with the Scottish play, hence JFK became John Ken O'Dunc, RFK Robert Ken O'Dunc, and LBJ the murderous titular MacBird!.

Initially staged at anti-war rallies and college protests, the work eventually attracted backers who opened it at New York's The Village Gate Theatre where it ran for a year. This success was due in part to Garson's clever writing with its serviceable faux Iambic pentameter, but some credit must go to the show's talented cast of young newcomers which included Rue McClanahan as Lady MacBird, William Devane as Robert Ken O'Dunc and Stacy Keach as MacBird.

As in Shakespeare's tale, Garson opens with three witches, but hers were cloaked in the personas of the radical left with Witch #1 an old Wobbly, Witch #2 a militant black activist, and Witch #3 a nubile coed and budding feminist.

Making his professional acting debut as Witch #2 was Cleavon Little who seven years later would enter comedy Valhalla portraying Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles.

Kennedy's demise is facilitated by the ambitious MacBird in his rise to power, who then sets out to appease the people by implementing "the Smooth Society" which he assures them:

"…has room for all;
for each, a house, a car, a family,
A private psychoanalyst, a dog,
And rows of gardens, neatly trimmed and hedged."

But Macbird's interest quickly turns towards the international scene, and bending uncooperative nations to his foreign policies by military force if necessary.

When faced with growing opposition to his overseas interventions, the dialogue Garson gives MacBird, echoes the casual eloquence Johnson was capable of.

“Our force shall only force them to be free."

MacBird

“I believe there is a light at the end of what has been
a long and lonely tunnel.”

President Lyndon Johnson
(September 21, 1966 – speaking of the conflict in Viet Nam.)

Ironically, in this first theatre work to question Oswald's guilt and cast a shadow over the findings of the Warren Commission, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was not the central conspiracy of the piece. A committed anti-war activist, the conspiracy at the core of Garson's MacBird! is LBJ's obsession to send American boys to fight and die in Viet Nam.

Garson, who ran as the Socialist Party candidate for the vice presidency in the 1992 Presidential election, is on record that MacBird! was a work of satire and that she was not seriously suggesting Lyndon Johnson had any part in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.

In 2006, Garson admitted in a Washington Post interview, that after decades of arguing the absurdity in believing Johnson was in any way complicit in JFK's death, she had given up.

Afterwards, whenever people would approach her to asked if she thought Johnson played a significant role in killing Kennedy she'd answer “If he did, it's the least of his crimes.”

...continue reading

The picture was taken by Dallas freelance photographer James "Jim" MacCammon barely 80 minutes after gunshots reverberated through Dealey Plaza. MacCammon photographed 24-year-old Oswald as he emerged from the Texas Theatre into the bright midday sun, sandwiched between Patrolman C.T. Walker and, still chewing his cigar, Detective Paul Bentley. Although MacCammon contacted news agencies, including LIFE, his remarkable photo went unpublished until TIME ran it three months later in February 1964. Internal records show that Time Inc. shared that picture and others MacCammon made with the FBI. Eventually, in late 1964, three MacCammon photographs appeared in volume 20 of the Warren Commission's documentation. "It was always like a lecture," remembers Mary MacCammon, the photographer's daughter, who was in the 4th grade at the time. "He always wanted us to know the story of what happened when Oswald was arrested." The MacCammon photo of Kennedy's assassin essentially disappeared for more than 40 years, until the New York Times included it in Detective Bentley's obituary on July 27, 2008. The photo credit line read, Jim MacCammon, courtesy of Howard Upchurch. But this time, unlike when TIME ran the photo in 1964, the picture appeared in color. Howard Upchurch, a Dallas-area Kennedy assassination researcher, had befriended a man who in 1963 worked at MacCammon's favorite Dallas photo lab and kept a color print of the MacCammon picture. Years later he gave it to Upchurch, who showed it to me in the 1980s and later loaned it to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. MacCammon, who died in 2005, captured a moment that says so much about the soon-to-be-accused assassin and why so many still do not believe Oswald was the sole killer of President Kennedy and the killer of Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippit. As reported at the time, when police led him out of the theater, Oswald shouted: I protest this police brutality and I am not resisting arrest! Oh? Moments earlier, as cops approached him, Oswald suddenly punched Officer Nick McDonald in the face, drew a revolver from his waistband and tried to shoot him. McDonald jammed his hand on the gun and prevented it from firing as other officers pummeled Oswald to the floor, sat him in a seat and cuffed him. (MacCammon took a picture of that moment, too, but the image is too dark to reveal much.) [Ed's note: The TIME-LIFE Picture Collection discovered several duplicate negatives in our search for MacCammon's photographs. We've reproduced one of them below.]


Rare Ennio Morricone Tribute Concert at 'The Autry' Sunday, January 27, 2019

What started out as an annual birthday celebration with close musician friends, family, and other appreciators in the backyard of show organizer Henry Stanny, soon grew into a full concert tribute to the Oscar®-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone at the Autry Museum of the American West (The Autry.)

Originally scheduled for this weekend on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 5 p.m., a second show was then added at 1:00 p.m. at The Autry, where now both shows are currently sold out.

Morricone soundtrack fans span from classic and spaghetti western films to recent years' Quentin Tarantino film enthusiasts, creating a wide swath of appreciators here in the U.S., as well as here in Southern California. Considered one of the world's greatest living film composers, Morricone's world fame came with Sergio Leone's westerns, a few being “A Fistful of Dollars,” “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly,” and “Once Upon a Time in The West,” and more with films like “The Battle of Algiers,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Malena,” “The Untouchables,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” “The Mission,” and Tarantino's “The Hateful Eight.”

According to Stanny, who works at Laemmle Theatres and has an extensive collection and historical knowledge of film soundtracks and liner note history, the concept of the show birthed from discussions with his wife, Nancy Hoven, from his desire to hear collections of Morricone's music that is not often included in the contemporary tribute concert repertoire, for a birthday party at their home.

"I asked [Nancy] if I could hear some of the stuff that I have never heard from any of these great composers, in my backyard [for my birthday], and she said "Why don't we do that!?," said Stanny. "And we did that for a number of years."

Stanny's friend, Tom Griep, who was a co-director of the USC Film Scoring Department at one time, took to the task of organizing musicians for these annual backyard fêtes. Per Stanny, flutist Sara Andon, played for 18,000 people in Kraków Morricone's music from "Hamlet," "Then she'd come and do the same piece in my backyard." He had also met cellist Circe Diaz-Gomero at the Golden State Pops Orchestra in San Pedro after seeing her play.

"I'd always go there and look at her as she was this cellist in the first row," Stanny said of Diaz-Gomero. "Your eye always went to her because she would go totally into the music and move about and you would just be dazzled by her playing. Stuff like that happened until I got 11 people on my show, and they're all amazing. It broke my pocketbook, but it was really amazing."

Starting about six years ago, Stanny, who paid professional musicians to play, first attracted about 35 guests to his backyard birthday concerts. Over the years attendance grew to over 70 plus, up to the last one. This weekend, The Autry will accommodate 215 seats for each of the scheduled sold out performances, allowing Stanny to enjoy his favorite selections of music with even more fellow appreciators.

Host Bruce Kimmel, along with a total of nine musicians and two guests soloists comprise the orchestra for the program. Featured are Musical Director and pianist Thomas Griep, flutist Sara Andon, violinist  Nathalie Bonin, cellist Diaz-Gamero, on trumpet will be Drew Ninmer, on guitar Omri Lahav, with vocalists Maegan McConnell and Robert Yacko. Special guests Mark Tschanz and Italian pop star Veronika Coassolo will do a piece from "Django Unchained."

The full concert featuring the music of this legendary film composer is performed by this select ensemble of world-class musicians and singers, with “an emphasis on famous Westerns like 'A Fistful of Dollars' and 'Once Upon a Time in the West,''' according to the websites program highlights, as well as some obscure and rare gems.

According to Stanny, Morricone "has written more than 400 scores, and most of them are in Italian." For the Autry, half of the program is from his Westerns, and will feature songs "Ecstasy of Gold" from "The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly," main themes from "For a Few Dollars More" and a "Fistful of Dollars,"  "The Man With the Harmonica," from "Once Upon a Time in The West,"  "Run Man Run," from "The Big Gun Down," and "Gabriel's Oboe" from "The Mission," with rare pieces "Angel Face" from "A Pistol for Ringo," the main theme from "Duck You, Sucker," "The Ballad of Hank McCain" from "Machine Gun McCain," and "Ancora Qui" from "Django Unchained," just to name a few.

Also in the program is "Le Due Stagioni Della Vita." "It's from a movie hardly anybody ever saw. It was released in France, and came and went," said Stanny. "But because Morricone liked it he put it on his album ... it's really obscure, but it's really beautiful."

After the concert, there will be a no-host dinner and drinks gathering at Mimi's Café in Los Feliz around 8:00 p.m. in a reserved a room where music fans and patrons can mingle with the artists.

Mimi's is located at 2925 Los Feliz Blvd. 90039, a short drive from the Autry Museum of the American West.

  1. Poster Art Illustration courtesy of The Autry Museum of the American West;
  2. Photo of Henry Stanny courtesy of Henry Stanny.