Friday, October 27, 2017

STRANGE JOURNEY: HOW TWO HOMESICK PILGRIMS STUMBLED BACK INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH



This week's arts and culture column reflects on a wonderful new memoir.

Here's how the piece begins:

Pope Francis has observed: “The Church is a field hospital. Heal the wounded, heal the wounded, heal the wounded.”

Jessica Mesman Griffith and Jonathan Ryan head up an online community called Sick Pilgrim that takes the command seriously. Their Patheos blog and Wonder podcast explore “the edge of faith, reason and doubt,” and have attracted legions of followers who might otherwise feel themselves on the outskirts of the Church.

The Sick Pilgrim Facebook page lists interests such as, “Catholicism, art, publishing, media, culture, music, saints, sinners, pilgrims.”

Jessica is the author of four books, a nationwide speaker on faith and the arts and a stupendously gifted writer, both literary and Catholic in the widest sense of the word: deeply human, deeply funny. I first came across her work in “Love and Salt” (Loyola Press, 2013), a book of letters exchanged with a friend when they were both pregnant in prose that has been called “raw and intimate, humorous and poetic.”

A native of New Orleans whose mother died young of cancer, Jessica felt shunned by the people of her parish as a teenager, as if tragedy had tainted her. She and her sister tried to commune with their mother’s spirit through Ouija boards, call-in psychics and mirror divination.

Jessica dyed her hair purple, got a nose ring and listened to Pearl Jam in her bedroom, weeping and praying that Eddie Vedder would save her. She suffered panic attacks at parties. Her “holy roller” father tried to commit her to a mental institution.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

I'M EMERGING FROM MY LAIR TOMORROW



I have two "events" tomorrow, if you happen to be wandering around LA:

October 28, Saturday, 2017 
10 a.m.
Talk and book signing
Pauline Books & Media
3908 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
310.397.8676
culvercity@paulinemedia.com

2 p.m.
Talk, panel participation, book signing
"Radically Loved, Radically Free: Jesus
The Dignity of Women/ENDOW Conference
Carmel of St. Teresa's Sacred Heart Retreat House
920 East Alhambra Road
Alhambra, CA 91801
626.289.1353
contact@sacredheartretreathouse.com

Then there will be the event of cramming down lunch as I drive madly from the West Side to Alhambra...I'm brining my own coffee!

Monday, October 23, 2017

CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON'S "LITURGY" AT THE COLBURN


MARIA KOWROSKI AND JARED ANGLE,
PRINCIPAL DANCERS FOR THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET,
IN CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON'S "LITURGY" 


This week's arts and culture column is on a truly stellar pas de deux my friend Bill and I were lucky enough to take in last Sunday afternoon.

The piece begins like this:

The Colburn is one of L.A.’s greatest treasures. A performing arts school located kitty-corner to Disney Hall, the Colburn draws the crème de la crème of aspiring pianists, violinists, oboeists and all other manner of up-and-coming musicians and dancers.

Many of us can’t afford tickets to see the opera, ballet or Master Chorale. No matter your budget or work schedule, the Colburn offers a cornucopia of delights.

There’s the Colburn Orchestra Concert Series, small ensemble performances from the Colburn Chamber Music Society and the Gibson Dunn Rush Hour, where conservatory students perform favorite chamber works on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. Afterward, you can mingle with students and artists over complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres. There are student and faculty recitals, also often free.

I’ve always believed in putting myself in close physical proximity to a place that emanates the spirit of civilization. When I worked as a lawyer in the early 1990s, I’d often sneak away after arguing a motion at the Superior Courthouse, grab a Starbucks and sit by the narrow reflecting pool behind the Museum of Contemporary Art trying to work up the courage to quit my job.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

LACO@THE MOVIES: BUSTER KEATON'S "THE GENERAL"

LOBBY OF DOWNTOWN LA'S ACE HOTEL
I MIGHT JUST HANG OUT IN THE BATHROOM ALL NIGHT

This week's arts and culture column begins like this:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) and LACO is pulling out all the stops.

There’s a Campus to Concert Hall all-access season pass, offering students 30 concerts for just $30. There’s the $1.5 million gift from philanthropists Carol and Warner Henry for the principal oboe chair. There are guest artists and conductors, world premieres and an innovative chamber music and discussion series that spans much of the city.

And on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m., there will be a special fundraising event: LACO @ the Movies: Buster Keaton’s “The General.” The venue will be downtown LA's Ace Hotel.

Scott Harrison, LACO’s executive director, said, “ ‘The General’ is such a wonderful event for us because it really brings together a few different strands of what LACO is. Hollywood has been very much a part of LACO’s identity from the start. We were founded by a gentleman named James Arkatov who’s turning 98 this year, I believe. The original musicians performed movie and television soundtracks for the studios. They were phenomenal, as you can imagine, because the chops and the skills required to do that sort of work are exceptionally high. But they were also looking for more of a creative and artistic outlet. They wanted a way to perform the music they loved and connect directly with audiences.



READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

CAN SOMEONE LEND ME A RHUBARB LEAF?


A PETER RABBIT FAMILY REUNION

Referring to herself in the third person, Beatrix described herself in 1925 as living 'amongst the mountains and lakes that she has drawn in her picture books...She leads a very busy contented life, living always in the country and managing a large sheep farm on her own land. Her shepherd Tom Storey described her as 'quite smart for her age...a bonny looking woman,' robust at the start of her seventh decade. Ten years later, with 'apple-red' cheeks and blue eyes undimmed, she appeared 'short, plump, solid,' to artist Delmar Banner, who painted Beatrix's best-known portrait--a tweedy Mrs Tiggy-winkle figure at a sheep judging on the Coniston fells. Other observers noted marked eccentricities in her dress: 'the sacking she put over her shoulders in the rain,' 'the use of a rhubarb leaf on her had against the sun in the hayfield.' Much to her amusement, a tramp on the Windermere ferry mistook Beatrix for a fellow vagrant. She dressed as she thought practical for a life spent in the fields, walking and watching. Banner described 'a kind of tea cosy' on her head and 'lots of wool clothes."

--Matthew Dennison, Over the Hills and Far Away: A Life of Beatrix Potter

BEATRIX POTTER AS A TEENAGER WITH HER PET MOUSE XARIFA,
1885

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE INDUSTRY HILLS CHARITY PRO RODEO

WOMAN GRAZING HER COW, 1858
JEAN-FRANCOIS MILLET

This week's arts and culture piece begins like this:

The Industry Hills Pro Rodeo has helped children in need in East San Gabriel Valley for more than 31 years.
Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the event has taken place annually, in September or October, since 1986. Ticket prices this year were a reasonable $18 for adults, $12 for seniors (ages 60+) and $8 for children (3-11).
Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Pro Rodeo is open to the public. A Community Kids Day takes place the Friday before. Here, local schoolchildren watch the rodeo with their classmates and teachers as part of class curriculum covering the history of the early West.
It was on this day that I was invited to visit by Pro Rodeo chairman extraordinaire Larry Hartmann.
I arrived at the Industry Hills Expo Center Arena at 9 a.m.
In spite of his myriad duties, Larry, along with his wife Corinne, greeted me warmly. He also managed to finagle a seat for me on the horse-drawn stagecoach, generally reserved for dignitaries such as city council people who officially open the rodeo by making a grand entrance and slowly circling the arena. I hung out the window giving the Queen Mum wave to the youngsters who, with heartwarming enthusiasm, wildly clapped and cheered.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

TERRY CANNON'S BASEBALL RELIQUARY

EDDIE GAEDEL HOLY CARD.
EDDIE (1925-1961) WAS AN AMERICAN WITH DWARFISM WHO MADE A SINGLE PLATE APPEARANCE IN THE SECOND GAME OF A ST. LOUIS BROWNS DOUBLEHEADER ON AUG. 19, 1951, WAS WALKED AND THEREBY BECAME THE SHORTEST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE MAJOR LEAGUES. HE HAS BEEN DESIGNATED BY THE RELIQUARY AS THE “PATRON OF THOSE WHO PLAY BASEBALL IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY.”

This week's arts and culture column entailed a field trip that turned out to be one of those serendipitous days of goodwill and joy that keep us humans getting out of bed one more day.

The reflection starts like this:

As a New Hampshire native, my knowledge of baseball is strictly confined to the Boston Red Sox, and began and ended around the Carl Yastrzemski era.

But I understand and am fascinated by the near-obsessive love that so many feel for our national sport.

Enter L.A.’s own Baseball Reliquary, “a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history, and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities.”

The collection includes such sacred objects as “Dock Ellis Hair Curlers,” “Mother Teresa Autographed Baseballs” and the “Babe Ruth Sacristy Box,” out of which a priest performed the last rites.

Each third Sunday in July, the Reliquary hosts the Shrine of the Eternals, a kind of people’s Hall of Fame, and inducts three new members, chosen not so much for stellar stats as for heart crossed with eccentricity.

But this is no tongue-in-cheek lark...


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

THE BABE RUTH HOT DOG
photo credit: THE BASEBALL RELIQUARY

According to the Baseball Reliquary website, the story behind the ot Dog runs like this:

Babe Ruth’s extraordinary journey from a Catholic reform school in Baltimore to the storied confines of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx made him the idol of a nation. The ballplayer of ballplayers, Babe was also a man who indulged in earthly pleasures, as sportswriter H.G. Salsinger noted, “He could eat more, drink more, smoke more, swear more, and enjoy himself more than any contemporary.” A legendary gourmand, Babe was fond of drinking a quart mixture of bourbon whiskey and ginger ale at breakfast, before attacking a porterhouse steak garnished with half-a-dozen fried eggs and potatoes on the side.

Perhaps no artifact of Ruthiana attests more to his culinary excesses than this desiccated hot dog, partially consumed by the Bambino during an eating binge just prior to his collapse on a train ride in April 1925. Babe reportedly gorged himself on a dozen to eighteen hot dogs before blacking out, and a week later he was at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, undergoing surgery for an intestinal abscess. New York writers termed his illness “The Bellyache Heard Round the World,” but in recent years historians have speculated that Babe actually suffered from gonorrhea and not acute indigestion.


SINGER OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AT OVER 125 PROFESSIONAL
BASEBALL GAMES; AUTHOR OF ,AMONG OTHER BOOKS,  ROUNDING THE BASES;  AND WHITTIER COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES JOSEPH L. PRICE.
NOTE THE QUILT, WHICH WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE RELIQUARY
AND FEATURES FEMALE SAINTS (I THINK IMAGINARY) PLAYING VARIOUS BASEBALL POSITIONS.

DODGERS SUPER-FAN EMMA AMAYA.



THE MASTERMIND BEHIND IT ALL:
THE ONE AND ONLY MR. TERRY CANNON.
Terry’s description of the Reliquary:

"It is a traveling museum for which no category yet exists. it was started in 1996 as an attempt to provide an outlet and an organizational structure for my combined interests in baseball history and art. it is the only baseball institution that asks you to surrender the idea that history and fiction can be neatly separated."

No surprise: Terry served for years on the board of the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Here's a Q and A with him from a few years back, and a wonderful piece by Carl Kozlowski that appeared in last summer's Pasadena Weekly