Allan Sekula, who died last year, was a photographer, writer and deep thinker based at CalArts in Valencia. Noël Burch is a noted film critic. In 2010, the pair collaborated on a documentary film, The Forgotten Space, that won the Venice Horizons Award at the Venice Film Festival. The movie, based on Sekula’s Fish Story—a 1995 book that explored the global maritime industry—examines globalization’s impacts, detailing the plight of farmers, cargo workers and low-wage laborers around the world. “Capitalism,” Mark Holcomb writes in his review in The Village Voice, “can’t help but eat itself, Sekula and Burch suggest—we might just have to endure ‘a world of relentless toil’ before the chewing stops.” The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego will host a screening of the film at , at its La Jolla location (700 Prospect St.). General admission is $8, $5 for seniors and free for museum members and students.
In it, I say Glover snubbed CityBeat because, as has been his practice during the nine years he's been touring with his films and live show, he copied and pasted recycled answers in response to an email Q&A I sent him. I had originally requested a phone interview but was told by the promoters that it would have to be done via email.
Here's the story behind that story.
When I first opened Glover's email, I was stoked. I naively thought the one-and-only Crispin Glover (George McFly himself!) had opened up my email and, so inspired by my insightful questions, had typed thousands of words in response (just for little ol' me!). I went home that night and, after working hard to get my little one to go to sleep, stayed up late to hit the next morning's deadline for the short piece. I was pretty excited to be writing about Glover. He's weird, but fascinating—maybe even an artistic genius.
I wrote the piece quoting a few of the lines from the email Q&A. But, in doing a little more research, I ended up stumbling across a startling (for me anyway) bit of info in No. 12 in Flavorwire's "12 Things We Learned from Crispin Glover’s Reddit AMA" piece (I, too, had read through a lot of the Reddit AMA but found his extraordinarily long responses to some of the questions hard to get through): Flavorwire called out the fact that Glover often copies and pastes answers to questions from a long document he's put together using information culled from written interviews he's conducted over the last nine years.
I went back to our email Q&A, pulled out entire paragraphs and pasted them into Google. Dozens of interviews popped up with verbatim responses (the questions leading to the responses, by the way, are all pretty different). It made sense: While Glover had sort of answered my questions in a roundabout way, it became clear that he had simply provided canned responses, save for a few hastily written lines.
I felt snubbed and I knew my editor wouldn't allow what's akin to quoting a press release in a story, so I erased the piece I had written and started over. Enter the snark and caution.
At about 1 a.m., I sent Glover the following, just to see how he'd respond: "Uh, is this all copied and pasted?"
Glover sent a long email in response explaining his tactic.
"With this method I can take more time with the questions that are not normally asked," he explained. "I of course wrote all of it.... This way I use the replies for the questions that are mandatory for the interviewer to ask and I am able to do the interviews at odd hours and when I am traveling and otherwise not reachable on my tours. It also makes it so the interviewer does not have to transcribe. It is a far more detailed interview than would happen otherwise.
He offered to answer more questions, but the story was already past deadline. I told him that I appreciated his time and understood how busy he must be. But, still a bit frustrated and feeling blindsided because he didn't mention he'd copied and pasted the responses up front, I laid out a five-point email in which I listed reasons why most journalists aren't likely to appreciate his approach.
The email set off a firestorm that ultimately spread to the promoters of the San Diego show and led to Glover saying that he had not received the original request for a phone interview (it was indeed sent by the promoter but went to the wrong address, which is why it didn't register as a press request).
In short, Glover was not happy, either with the miscommunication or with the negative piece that resulted. In fact, he was downright upset, because, as I later learned during a phone interview with Glover that lasted more than an hour long, the man is nothing if not open and accessible. Turns out he grants phone and even in-person interviews as often as he can.
"What’s especially, for me, frustrating about it is I feel like, [as opposed to] most actors or filmmakers, I’m way more available," he said. "I have motivation to get the word out as much as possible. I’m not interested in snubbing anybody. I’m grateful to anybody who wants to say anything about my films."
"It’s not fair," he later added. "I’m out there trying to get stuff across that’s good, that’s thoughtful… and it’s very difficult to do as an individual. I do not have a publicist. I do all of this myself."
The first hour of my conversation with Glover flew by. Among many points, he convinced me of his authenticity, passion and dedication to getting his art films What is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE, out to the widest audience possible without the benefit of corporate mass distribution. His main objective with the films is straightforward, earnest and commendable—he simply wants to inspire people to ask questions and think critically.
"The films are my psychological response to corporate constraints," he explains. "I want people to ask, 'Is this right what I’m watching? Is this wrong what I’m watching? Should the filmmaker have done this? What is it?'"
Our long conversation was ultimately cut off by the automated voice of Google Voice, which said the maximum amount of time for recording a conversation had passed.
"Are you secretly recording us?!" I asked Glover, before the call was cut off.
Glover quickly called me back and assured me that if he was recording the call, he certainly had not meant to.
"That's illegal," he said, assuring me that perhaps he had simply hit a wrong button.
The flute isn’t generally regarded as a staple instrument of jazz—at least not like trumpet, piano or saxophone. Not that there haven’t been some outstanding jazz flautists over the years—like Herbie Mann and Bobbi Humphrey, as two prime examples. Nicole Mitchell is another incredible instrumentalist to add to the list. She’s performed with avant-garde ensemble Exploding Star Orchestra, as well as with experimental jazz icon Anthony Braxton. Mitchell’s latest group is called the Sun Dial Ensemble, and they’ll be performing as part of Bonnie Wright’s curated Fresh Sound series, bringing together jazz, African, gospel and avant-garde sounds into one eclectic and unique showcase. Nicole Mitchell and Sun Dial Ensemble will perform at , at the Athenaeum School of the Arts in University Heights (4441 Park Blvd.). Tickets are $15, or $10 for students.
I recently dropped in on the folks at Lux Art Institute and was surprised to see the new 7,000-square-foot Education Pavilion looking like it's ready to open for business. The beautiful contemporary building will officially open to the public during a big shindig on April 12. Here's more on what you can expect from the new arts space:
San Diego doesn’t really do Mardi Gras quite like they do in New Orleans—nobody in the U.S. does—though just about every corner of the world has some form of carnival celebration. If you’re looking to engage in some pre-Lent indulgences on a smaller, more manageable scale, your best bet is Bacchus Night in North Park. A pre-Mardi Gras block party with all of Fat Tuesday’s revelry (though probably fewer mammaries), Bacchus Night will feature a crawfish boil and gumbo at Urban Solace, hushpuppies and Hurricanes at True North and barbecued oysters at Bar Pink, plus a prize raffle, drink specials and performances by The Euphoria Brass Band, Billy Lee and the Swamp Critters and Zydeco Patrol. The party kicks off at 5 p.m., Sunday, March 2. Tickets are $40. Ages 21 and up.
Costumes and couplets: That about sums up North Coast Rep's The School for Lies, which opened Saturday night in Solana Beach. Now, I've got to tell you: A couple of couplets goes a long, long way. The entire script by playwright David Ives, adapting mischievously Moliere's The Misanthrope, is written in rhyming verse. You find yourself waiting, waiting, waiting for them, sometimes with anticipation, sometimes with a measure of dread. Either way, it makes for a long sit, in spite of the play's sight gags, well-intended silliness and, of course, those costumes (design by Allina Bokovikova): flouncy dresses and gigantic wigs and pantaloons. Lots of makeup, too.
The drawing-room story (set in 1666) about the effect of one brazen truth-teller on a society of insouciant truth-benders plays second fiddle to the visuals—a suggestion of cleavage here, an unignorable wart there. The cast is clearly having a ball: Jessica John and Dana Hooley, in particular, among the women, and as three fops, Phil Johnson, David McBean and Jason Heil are free to boldly go wherever they can get big laughs. Old pro Jonathan McMurtry is on hand, too, as always to show 'em how it's done.
'Twas an interesting moment Saturday night when the lights went out during Act 2. For a second or two, the actors (and audience) were plunged into darkness. Then things continued under house lights before technicalities were cleared righted. That left chaos only on the stage, where in this romp, it's supposed to be.
North Coast Repertory Theatre's The School for Lies continues through March 16.
Dr. Lonnie Smith isn't actually a doctor, and though he wears a turban and a long beard, he's not a sikh. Nope—the dude's just cool like that. Smith, who started playing jazz in his teens and went on to perform and record with the George Benson Quartet before eventually heading up his own group and getting signed to Blue Note records, is a master of the Hammond B-3 organ and considered one of the greatest musicians to ever tickle the instrument's soulful keys. He's been sampled by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest ("Can I Kick It?") and Wu-Tang Klan and, at age 71, recently put out a new album, In the Beginning. At , Smith and his trio perform at The Loft @ UCSD—a fantastically intimate venue for this jazz great. Tickets are $18 for general admission, $28 for reserved seating.
The beer lovers over at Modern Times have invited folks to come to their brewery (3725 Greenwood St., Sports Arena), quaff some suds and, as they put it, "watch Bastian fly around on a sweet-ass luck dragon.” What the hell are they talking about!? Well, apparently they just got this super-gigantic projection screen installed in their Lomaland tasting room. Enter movie nights.* Tuesday, Feb. 11, starting at Modern Times Super Fun Move Night presents—you guessed it—The Neverending Story. All you rock biters are invited to come kick it with Atreyu and the gang as Bastian gets up the courage to call the princess’ name. Bring your own chairs and wash down a wood-fired Criscito Pizza made onsite with some tasty brew. Or, if all you’re after is IPA-drenched cinema, feel free to save some dough and bring your own grub.
The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) recently laid off four employees. CityBeat heard rumors of the incident late last week and just confirmed the details this morning. Look for a more complete piece in next week's print edition, but, for now, here's the official statement from SDMA director Roxana Velasquez:
In an effort to assure a balanced budget, the leadership and Board of Trustees at The San Diego Museum of Art determined that several adjustments had to be made to the museum’s expenses for the current 2014 fiscal year.
Unfortunately, this resulted in the difficult decision to eliminate four positions, and make reductions in marketing budgets and select public programming.
The Museum will continue to focus on delivering excellence to San Diego and beyond, specifically in our exhibitions and educational outreach. We look forward to a significant schedule of exhibitions planned for the next two years around the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial Celebration, and will continue to be supported by our hard-working staff, highly motivated board and committed set of volunteers.
The announcement comes on the heels of a significant donation to SDMA from Conrad Prebys and Debbie Turner, who, U-T San Diego reported, recently gave the museum $1.5 million to help underwrite 2014-2016 programming.
*An earlier version of this blog post indicated that the layoffs happened last week. We're not yet sure of the exact timetable.
As scarce as rain has been this winter, it arrived just in time for a trip up Interstate 5 to Intrepid Shakespeare Company's theater in Encinitas. The gloom and inclemency seemed perfectly suited to Intrepid's production of Macbeth, which will run through Feb. 16. This incarnation of "The Scottish Play" comes five years after Intrepid opened with same, and it's a swiftly moving, athletic interpretation with no shortage of sound and fury.