CULTURAL CUTTING EDGES ON THE WESTSIDE

Jumping from cutting edge to cutting edge beyond the beach on the Westside these seemingly endless rainy days; last weekend it was the UCLA’s Center for the Performing Arts in Westwood and this weekend the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills

And in doing so, one must jump with caution, for cutting edges can be both sharp and dull, challenging the senses, and on stage the theatrical norms, as I observe in The Local and select social media websites.

So, if last weekend’s production of “Mouthpiece” at Royce Hall was an offbeat production of the spoken word, requiring listening carefully to the rush of feminist dialogue, this weekend’s dance concert at the Wallis requires close attention to the body movements and accompanying music.

In keeping with its commitment to “create, present and celebrate unique performing arts events, “ and to tap talent  from “around the globe,” on stage at the Wallis this Friday and Saturday night will be the dance company Ate9, which has deep roots in Israel.  Live music will be provided by percussionist Glenn Kotche..

Under the always inventive direction of choreographer Danielle Agami, the company will be performing the world premier of a work labeled “Blind Lady, “ which should give you some hints of the dance drama to be played out on stage.  Agami will of course star, to live music as usual for her performances provided by the percussionist Glenn Kotche.

Interestingly, also on the program is the company’s acclaimed piece “Calling Glenn,” which alludes to the percussionist, who accompanies the piece and no doubt will be a presence. It should be fun, and I’m looking forward to the performance.

As for its pursuit of distinctive musical performances, next  weekend, Saturday, the 23rd,  at the Wallis will be the chamber orchestra  Kaleidoscope. As its mode, the orchestra’s 40 or so musicians will play without  a conductor a program of  Beethoven and Prokofiev, featuring pianist Irene Kim.

And in keeping with the Wallis commitment to the new, also on the program is a work for strings by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw. She has been praised for taping songs for political and interpersonal relevance, to quote a line from a New York Times review. 

If you love expecting the unexpected in the performing arts, you have to love the Wallis, in Beverly Hills. 

And for me making an evening there all the more pleasing, is that the Wallis is housed in an imaginatively repurposed formerly Beverly Hills Post Office, an iconic landmark built in 1933, and on the National Register of Historic Places.

2.13.19

MALIBU’S LOSS OF INNOCENCE

When the Woolsey Fire ravaged a significant slice of Malibu, it also laid bare the city’s collective innocence, exposing a failed leadership and a flawed first response, and is now faced with the daunting challenge to rebuild while also preparing for the next inevitable disaster.

The innocence was frankly ingenuous, having become crusted over the years by Malibu’s desirable, seaside location, increasingly prohibitive real estate prices, bad planning and a privileged population of presumed entitlements, inexorably edging out persevering residents.

 As I observe in The Local, (https://www.facebook.com/thelocalmalibu/ it is a thin crust, labeled by its imperfect leadership as 21 miles of scenic beauty, cheered by avaricious realtors, rapacious high end retailers, and a supercilious entertainment industry, its fattened elite rolling dice on a monopoly board cluttered with trophy houses. Even the car named after it is spurious.

 Now a fractured, fire ravaged municipality, one wonders what it will take for Malibu to come to the sad awakening that it has been poorly served by selfsatisfied bureaucrats who presumably are sworn to protect us? 

 Whether the latest exploit of City Manager Reva Feldman going to Paris for a two-week vacation as a devastated Malibu stumbles trying to launch a rebuild is just another indication of her dereliction of duties, to be forgiven by a fledgling City Council, and a naïve, status quo conscious citizenry?

 Or whether the ill timed vacation will be that additional insult, that final straw that broke the camel’s back, to prompt a reasoned recall for her resignation. This coming as it does after the city’s lack of preparedness for the fire, its mishandling of the mandatory evacuation, and its witless failure to assist besieged residents during the height of the tragedy and after.

 All of these debacles and their disastrous consequences can be laid at the feet of Feldman, who actually at first had the temerity of praising her staff and herself for their efforts during the fire, and conspiring with then Mayor Rick Mullen to blandly bull shit a sorry undiscerning media of half baked journalists (though immodestly not us). 

 But when Feldman was exposed as actually abandoning City Hall and the Emergency Operations Center there during the 16 hours when the fire was ravaging western Malibu and Point Dune, she pleaded she was just following the mandatory evacuation and really had no authority over the questioned response of the Fire and Sheriff’s departments. More bull shit.

 Yes, her puppets will cite the state laws and codes concerning a declared state of emergency that limit the authority of a city manager and all local government officials.  And no doubt this will be echoed in the flow of excuses mouthed by officialdom in the upcoming repetitive reviews of the Woolsey Fire.

 But whatever regulations there are, in the immediacy of a disaster local governments are not excluded from the manifest chain of command, indeed are a much needed link in the communications that flows up and down the chain in combating the fires. 

 The harsh fact is that during the critical hours of the Woolsey fire Feldman failed the city; wasn’t even a self described “messenger” for which she incidentally is paid $300,000 a year, despite her lack of proven supervisory experience. She was challenged by the fire, and was found wanting.

 As for the appeal not to be divisive, and the contention that Feldman as the city manager is vital to the rebuild effort, that is simply answered by her going on a Paris vacation at a parlous time.

 She is really superfluous, and being a bean counter personified tends to bog down the already ponderous bureaucratic process, focusing on why things can’t be done rather how they can be done, There are staff beyond her entourage known to be competent, if not dispirited by her closed door, closed mouth mismanagement.

 Meanwhile, the rebuild effort does not have the luxury of time that the reviews most likely will take, nor the pending recall needed to replace the muddled Mullen and the pathetic Peak with councilpersons who would vote for Feldman’s ouster. if this was the private sector, she would have been shown the door long ago.

 Of course, if it has been listening to the anguish of its constituencies, this present Council could vote to remove her, now.   She could also resign, and save the city a lot of angst, and herself further embarrassment.

SOME CULTURAL DIVERSIONS BEYOND PCH

A new format for my arts and entertainment reviews, no more listeners on a limited local radio station, and many more readers on the rising and relevant THE LOCAL (https://www.facebook.com/thelocalmalibu/)  and select websites.  

And just in time, for a promising 2019 cultural scene, even if  expected to be more challenging to attend venues, especially  downtown and across L.A. because of the inexorable traffic, which seems to be getting worse and worse, or is it me in my dotage getting more and more impatient.    

You just have to be more selective choosing attractions and more cautious timing to get to them, and I as a guide will have to consider in my recommendations what is more accessible to an increasingly isolated Malibu. I do hate the PCH, with the 10 and 101 not far behind.

 But I will not let that dampen my aesthetic instinct to search out the more off beat, for that is what I find most exciting about Los Angeles. It arts and entertainment scene is very much on the cutting edge. 

With that in mind, upcoming this weekend downtown at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel is Gala, a very different and open appreciation of dance starring a diversity of professional and amateurs, including some challenged.  Everything that I have heard and read about this imaginative production by Jerome Bel promises to be an uplifting evening. One night only, Saturday.

This is a co production of the Ford Theatres with UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Based in Royce Hall on campus, the Center almost always can be expected to offer something challenging and contemporary.

 That certainly can be described by the upcoming production of  MOUTHPIECE,  which advance notices contend melds music, dance and humor with just a bathtub for scenery to relate the experience of being a woman.“  Blurbs from feminist declare it “impossible to describe and truly unforgettable.”

A stronger recommendation for me is that the production took flight as one of hits of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which I consider as a critic a mother lode of imaginative theatre. It was originally conceived in the also ever inventive Quote Unquote Collective, a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary performance company that actively engages with urgent social and political themes

It will be at Royce Hall Rehearsal Hall, for five nights, Wednesday Feb  6 through Sunday, the 10th, certain at 8PM.

Also promising something different, in this case very modern dance, is the Ate 9 Company’s world premiere, entitled Blind Lady.   It will be at the also innovative Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, in its Bram Goldsmith Theatre, in Beverly Hills. February 15-16,.

With live music by percussionist Glenn Kotche and choreographed by Artistic Director Danielle Agami, if this is anything like the past productions of theirs I have been blessed to see, Blind Lady is sure to engage, and be memorable.

And it’s nice to get away from my ailing Malibu, if only for an evening.

2.1.19

MALIBU’S MOMENT OF TRUTH; RESIGNATION OR RECALL

Let there be no mistake about a recall for my ailing Malibu. It would be wrenching, for a city already fractured by a dwindling citizenry displaced by a disastrous fire, persevering disconcerted residents, thankful their homes were spared though many were scarred, and a disconnected second home population.

Though without reluctance I signed the recall petition, as I willingly did the immediate and frankly more pressing petition demanding the resignations or firing of City Manager Reva Feldman and Emergency Service Manager Susan Duenas.

As I blog in The Local (https://www.facebook.com/thelocalmalibu/)

personally I hope the vote could be avoided, and Rick Mullen and Skylar Peak serve out their remaining terms of less two years; no doubt Rick running up his outrageous overtime to pad his pension as a fire captain, and a smiling Skylar enjoying early retirement in his scattered, surfside domiciles.

That, of course, could happen, as has been stated repeatedly by the Malibu strong, determined petition bearers. All it would take to avoid the probable pain of the recall is if the Council would ask for Reva’s resignation. Maybe also throw in an exiting gift, even a letter of recommendation, as a bean counter personified, while showing her the door.  She could always blame her departure to a maladroit Malibu, as other cities are wont to hear.  

 Certainly you think it would be preferable to the ignominy of being summarily fired, with a public recitation of her dereliction of duties as well as her vanities. That would make great grist for the popular and professional media, at least from my perspective as someone who has plowed those rocky but fertilized fields. 

But then there has to be the reluctance by Reva to give up her $300,000 plus salary and benefits that has made her one of the highest paid city managers in the nation, and not incidentally also for one of the smallest cities. It really is impressive how with limited academic credentials and less senior supervisory experience beyond bean counting, she had wrangled such a coveted managerial position. 

But maybe you don’t want to know how, but I suspect it is nothing more nefarious than being employed in a city with a succession of neophyte councils that have preferred to spend money on self-aggrandizing vanities rather than needed administrative oversight.

No one needs the distraction and aggravation of a looming vote, let alone the ugly signage and floods of mail reminding us of how our City Hall embarrassed and failed us in the Woolsey firestorm and after. Then there is the managerial adage of “A people hire A people, while B people hire C people.”  Malibu sadly is adrift in a sea of “Cs.”

Whether they ever admit it and apologize or not, Malibu’s City Hall and a woeful fire department perhaps might be forgiven by the more kindly of us. But for most residents who lived through the fires their failures will never be forgotten.  

And we don’t need what I’m sure will be b.s. bureaucratic investigations or reviews to tell us they did fail, “yes, but.”  To be sure, a very pronounced “but.” Though the reports might make for coveted souvenirs for many, for a few I’m sure they will be cathartic.

But expect no one responsible to be cited, no civil servant or serpent named and resignation requested. Perhaps a “lessons learned” would be helpful, with specific mandates and budget allocations. Maybe the budget funds the fire department personnel, such as our former mayor Mullen, have been scamming, albeit legally, can be diverted.

Also personally we really don’t need more of our evening or weekends usurped for open meetings with the usual suspects looking nonplussed at the head table, mouthing excuses and their sycophants nodding like bobble head dolls, scowling at those candidly venting.

Yes, all this can be avoided and we can get on with the arduous task of rebuilding Malibu and aiding however we can its burnt out victims. 

Reva of course can do the right thing, and resign, for which she would be thanked.  No more booing, please.

 But if not, the Council could fire her, by a 3 to 2 vote, by councilpersons I hope would not need to be reminded that they were elected to office, not anointed with divine rights, and have constituencies that want Reva gone, the sooner the better. The petition should be read to all who would listen.

It’s time for that moment of truth, difficult as it is. Time for each councilperson to be held accountable, yes, Rick and Skylar, too, as well as Jefferson, Mikke and Karen: a divisive, diverting recall, or a simple, if sad, request for a resignation?

2.1.19

FIRE SPECIALIST HIRE OR A SMOKE SCREEN

FIRE To coordinate the disparate efforts that tragically failed the city in the Woolsey fire, Malibu’s bungling bureaucracy wants to hire a specialist in fire safety and emergency preparedness. The item goes before the City Council next Monday.  

The disaster prone city desperately needs mid-level, knowledgeable, personnel to serve and advocate for its residents. However, remaining at City’s Hall is City Manager Reva Feldman and her flailing, overpaid, underachieving entourage.

From my perspective as a venerable skeptic, and observe in Malibu’s ever-candid welcoming forum, The Local, City Hall has entered what I label the third stage of dubious governance: building a buffer zone.

Some would call it a wall, a smoke screen, an attempt to cover their ass, or distance themselves as far as possible from the problems they are being paid the big bucks to confront, and make excuses why they can’t.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need a disaster specialist.  We most certainly do, to be sure, several.

 But we don’t need a top-heavy administration that has sadly demonstrated that  they first and foremost serve themselves rather than the public, and as of yet to apologize for its inaction and sorry excuses for failing Malibu miserably in the fire.

Having had a ringside seat and also have actually performed in the public circus, let me lend some perspective: grieving we are told comes in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There are as well similar stages in a bureaucracy suffering a hardening of administrative arteries, as does Malibu.

The first stage also is denial of doing anything wrong, in particular in the case of Malibu anticipating the fire and acting when it was at its most fearsome. Indeed, our city leaders actually had the temerity to congratulate themselves on the great job they had done, as claimed at the infamous meeting in Santa Monica after the fire hosted by Feldman. There even displayed a hypocritical flow of crocodile tears.

When that didn’t generate any sympathy, our city leaders moved into the second stage of bureaucratic exoneration: admitting there were failures. But quickly added that the city was not responsible for most anything, and was just acting as it should in an emergency, according to State regulations: yield all prerogatives to the fire and sheriff agencies, in effect excuse itself from the chain of command and not advocate for the city, or, god forbid, they might become ineligible for response related costs.

 It was a bean counter’s escape hatch that our number one bean counter personified, Reva, jumped through. As for the mumbling Mayor Mullen during that critical time, he supposedly was fighting fires, and directing the defense of his home, and not coincidently having his family disobey the mandatory evacuation orders he was urging others to follow. That is when he was not giving interviews.

Standing out in an email during that time to Reva I viewed under a Freedom Of Information request, Rick didn’t ask how the city was fairing, but how he looked on television as mayor. Reva responded with an emoji of hands clapping.

This classic shibboleth of “I was only following order,” did get a few thumbs up from the usual local maladroit minions of servile realtors, would-be lawyers and inexpert journalists. But obviously more was needed to get City Hall off the hook, for as observed in a recent blog; the city has changed, and is mad as hell.

So it was onto stage three of bureaucratic stratagem: create a buffer.  According to organizational theory, this makes it possible for those actually responsible to get out of the line of fire. In the Army this meant throwing people at the problem, to overwhelm whomever, or for the flunkies to perhaps come up with another tactic. Be heroes. Whatever, as long as the responsibility was handed off, and others could be blamed for any screw-ups. You just kept your head down.

In sum, we do need committed, plugged in personnel to facilitate our emergency efforts. What we don’t need is another layer of bureaucracy in a City Hall already fat with bean counters and paper shufflers.  We primarily need to both rebuild the homes lost, and rebuild City Hall to serve us, in the next disaster sure to come. 

The city is still in grief over the failed system that frankly became entrenched in decades past through the city’s collective apathy and cult of amiability that, because of greed and mismanagement, have subverted our mission statement. In more blunt terms, we as a city have been sadly scammed and hustled, by ourselves and others. Malibu strong, but not necessarily smart.

Yes, let’s hire the personnel needed to make us safe, and politely ask those who whether they want to admit their failures or not, to resign, and for that we would thank them and wish them luck.  Maybe give them a Dolphin Award as they went out the door. But if they don’t, they should suffer the ignominy of being fired.

That’s being tough, I know. But the times call for it, certainly if you have been affected by the fire.  It incidentally also could negate the need for an expensive and most likely divisive recall. 

NO APOLOGIES, JUST MORE EXCUSES

The prime harsh truth that emerged from the Town Hall meeting Saturday reviewing the Woolsey Fire fiasco was that City Manager Reva Feldman must go if Malibu ever expects to successfully rebuild and prepare for the next disaster.

 Also that the L.A. County Fire Department, if possible for a doleful bureaucracy, will have to review and seriously repair its chain of command so its forces in the field are deployed to full effect in response to the actual fires they are confronting and not to confused and conflicting orders.

 As I observe for THE LOCAL and select websites, the meeting for the most part was polite, and surprising given the raw nerves and bruised sensibilities of a packed audience many of whom were victims of the disaster that destroyed 700 plus homes, as well having to endure the calamity of the mandatory evacuation. 

 Understandable therefore was the audible groan punctured by snickers that was heard when Fire Chief Osby intimated the evacuation was a success, and the full throated booing when a contrite Reva snapped, “I wasn’t responsible for starting the fire and I wasn’t responsible for putting it out.”  

 Other than the impulsive jeering of Feldman and for the most part the bored response to the already aired excuses by Osby and his big brass trio, the meeting was a pure Kafkaesque display of a nightmarish bureaucracy.

 Indulge my literary pretensions, but we are talking here of alienation, existential anxiety and absurdity. The only thing missing in this almost surrealistic situation with its backdrop of a landscape of burnt blackened ashes of homes is a gesture of guilt.

That no doubt might have calmed the increasingly angry crowd, to be sure also dotted with true believers of the bumbling bureaucracy who somehow can forgive the pathetic performances during the fire of Feldman, the scamming Rick Mullen, and sidekick Skylar Peak.

 Feldman’s failure to ‘fess up to her and her handpicked handmaidens failings just does not engender confidence that in the challenging rebuild effort she can emerge from behind closed doors and advocate and perhaps innovate on behalf of residents, consumed as she is with protecting her sinecure for which she is obviously unqualified.

Sorry for the disruption at first it might cause at City Hall, but from my studied perspective of governances, she really should resign. Sooner rather than later, and let our Malibu begin to heal.

1.27.19

A CITY CHANGED, AND MAD AS HELL

Stepping back from the aftermath of the Woolsey wildfire and the depressing burnouts and despondency cast over my Malibu, trying to be optimistic I actually see some heartening and hopeful positives emerging from the ash

And that includes the insistent call for City Manager Reva Feldman’s resignation, or her firing, and if those requests fail to gain Council support, then the vexation of a recall and the election of new responsible and responsive council members alert to a changed city.

Primarily, as an immodest chronicler dedicated to adding a perspective to the disaster, listening to friends and neighbors and reading the tea leaves of Social Media, I sense in the conflicted comments and the demands for redress a healthy rise in a community consciousness.

It certainly enhanced the identity of residents with the construct and conceit of Malibu, and I am theorizing made them consciously reassess why they live here; what makes the place so special that people accept the risks of periodic fearful fire and floods, and the daily hell of the PCH. It just can’t be the real estate prices.

This consciousness manifested itself in those who defied the mandatory evacuation orders, and what must be added whenever that it is cited; the mismanaged execution by all levels of government, which is still to be explained. 

Abandoned by misguided first responders, the self-appointed scattered brigades of locals banded together to battle as best they could the flames threatening their homes and those of neighbors, and in the days that followed, stomped on the smoldering flareups.

And there were the others, ferrying people past arbitrary barriers, bringing in supplies, serving meals, tending animals, and personally speaking that included chickens. The individual efforts made for a communal spirit, typically experienced by long ago pioneers, bands of soldiering brothers, your platoon buddies, or post disaster survivors. Those feelings tend to linger.

Then there also in our Malibu a rising political consciousness, as the slow realization dawns as revealed in conversations among neighbors old and new, on social media, and in videos (Thank you John Watkin!) that government had failed to provide its most basic services, the health, welfare and safety of its constituents.

Those services are suppose to be pledged to all under the fundamental founding principles of the Social Contract, the basis of our democracy.

But our City Hall screwed up, big time, and that it didn’t do all it could have to both prepare for the inevitable disaster, and also didn’t when it came to advocate for Malibu when in dire need, and the days after. You don’t pay a city manager $304,000 a year to be a messenger or an apologist for whatever reason or vanity. 

Giving notice is a nasty business, and not many people like to do it, so you can understand the hesitancy of the council. 

But having your home, or your neighbor’s, with all its memories and value, turn to ash, is more than nasty.  It’s tragic, and it should make you mad.  Mad as hell, and want to do something about it, like sign the petition, and march on City Hall.

Book Review: An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles

By Sam Hall Kaplan01/17/2019

When first embracing Los Angeles as a surprisingly livable city to be explored and appreciated 40 long years ago, what I found absolutely essential was a copy of the second edition of Robert Winter and David Gebhard’s An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles, priced at $13.95. Now a new century, and nearly a score of years after the fifth edition, comes an ambitious sixth, fully revised by Robert Inman, intelligently reorganized, and containing several hundred new additions, and fresh photographs. The revitalized and, not incidentally, costly guide ($45), put out by a persevering Angel City Press, is much welcomed in these days of waning print, and is being appropriately celebrated locally.

Actually, the first edition had been a modest booklet surveying the whole of sprawling Southern California, as well as the fractured cityscape of Los Angeles, and was assembled in 1964 for a national gathering of architectural historians. The effort dragged past the meeting and was published in 1965. It was enthusiastically received, proved a coveted guide for locals in addition to visitors, and was expanded in a 1977 edition.

My copy quickly became dog-eared and battered, squeezed as it was into the glove compartment of a trusty convertible that was de rigueur transportation for migrants from Manhattan. You had to love the benign, sunny weather and then relatively light traffic that made touring with the top down so pleasant; an accessible — and free — parking space was a given, too.

So I snapped up the next edition, dated 1982, and then the next, in 1985, which in a short time became essential in my work as the design critic of a then ascending Los Angeles Times, as well as in my labors over the architectural history LA Lost & Found, illustrated with the photographs of the indefatigable Julius Shulman.

Over the years, which included the untimely death of Gebhard in a bicycle accident in 1966, Winter continued to update and tweak the contents, which were invariably wrapped in the same blue cover, displaying iconic towering palm trees. In this latest noble effort, Winter was aided by a former student, Robert Inman, who has written some modest urban walk handbooks.

Notable is the fact that the cover of the revised edition is accented by a background of smog brown, evoking the dystonic mood of the classic sci-fi film Blade Runner and an unappealing futuristic L.A. There are no palm trees on the new murky cover, but rather an uplit historic, classical City Hall, foregrounded by a distinctly high-tech modern government edifice, the Caltrans District 7 Building, which was designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne of the edgy local firm Morphosis, and a plaza with shadowy figures in a descending darkness. Gloomy.

How intentional that effect was must be asked of book designer Amy Inouye, cover photographer Martin Summers, or Paddy Calistro of Angel City Press. But as indicated in Nathan Masters’s breezy preface, the city is changing, and, to the authors, “seems a different place in many regards.”

Indeed, though single-family houses do dominate as in past editions, this one features more multiple-family, mixed-use buildings, and star architect conceits, including, of course, several singular constructs by the ubiquitous homegrown Frank Gehry. Though cited, there is no accompanying photograph of his signature, sculptural, and frankly off-putting Disney Concert Hall, though the adjacent welcoming, veiled Broad Museum, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is illustrated.

More importantly, the guide does hint at an encouraging social consciousness. Masters writes: “the aesthetics and originality of form are often secondary considerations of how a building addresses or fails to address some social goals, such as the need for sustainability and housing many people.” Noted are the protests and political muscle of status quo-conscious homeowner groups and the pressure of changing neighborhoods.

The compilers are to be particularly commended for citing the persistent, and growing, challenge of homelessness: “The centerpiece for any discussion about the future of Los Angeles County is the long term homelessness that, as this book goes to print, forces more than 50,000 individuals onto the streets.” Homeless encampments are very much in evidence in an otherwise gentrifying central city.

With its emphasis on social change and a new focus on public architecture, on top of the past editions’ wealth of historic landmarks and buildings of cultural interest, the sixth edition is (cover notwithstanding) a refreshing guide beyond its original intent as a professional and academic resource. It offers both locals and visitors a rich survey of the past, present, and future built environments of our ever-evolving city.

BEYOND THE PCH: THE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Principally on websites here and there are my immodest provocative political and planning perspectives of Malibu, and sometimes beyond. But also are my arts and entertainment observed, previews and reviews of my abiding love of the cultural scene, in Los Angles and beyond.

These of course include the conventional, mainstream productions, featured at the Music Center downtown. Upcoming by the city’s venerable Center Theatre Group is “ Linda Vista,”  a new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Tracy Letts, a post #MeToo adult tragic comedy about middle age life crisis.  It opens at the Taper January 16 and runs to Feb. 17, and promises to be an entertaining must see, and worth the drive from Malibu.

For something a little closer and challenging, upcoming at what I consider our local museum, the Getty. for one night only, Saturday the 12th, is artisdt, musician Lonnie Holley.

He will be performing his singular improvisational compositions inspired by his Southern roots, that blossomed into his drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph, stage presence and sound.  Expect the unexpected. It’s free, but you’ll needs tickets, so call ahead: getty.edu/360.

You might consider going early and making a day at the Getty, where there are several excellent exhibits at present.  Quite evocative is the haunting photographs of Sally Mann, which is on display until February 10. Explored is her native South, her family, and a landscape rich in history,

Also on display is a fascinating exhibit exploring the evolution of The Renaissance Nude.  When reviewing it when it opened, I hailed it as one of more engaging art histories in recent years. It runs until January 27.  

If you schedule seeing it on the 12th, and your timing is right and you’ve called ahead for tickets, there is a lecture at 4  PM  on how the nude was viewed in the Renaissance, enhancing religious devotion or desire.  This will give you a little time before the evening concert to catch a bite in the reasonably priced and comfortable self-service café, as I do.

And if you are into nudes, there is a conference at the Getty that next day, Sunday, the 13th, beginning at 10 AM running until 5 PM, of a gathering of scholars discussing  the various attitudes in different cultures to the art form. Entitled The Nude in the Pre-Modern World, 1400 -1700, it is open to all.  Clothing optional?  

And for something really different, is the renown actress Isabella Rossellini and her dog, Pan, in the heralded “Link Link Circus,” at the Broad Stage in very accessible Santa Monica.

Assisted by a puppeteer and animal handler, and incorporating home movies and animation, the unconventional production runs Jan. 25 through the 27th.

My alma mater The New York Times called the show “surrealist humor.”  That, and featuring a dog, makes it a must for me to see.  I suspect it will also for others, and suggest you might want to get tickets earlier.  No service dogs, please.

THE TWO MALIBUS 12.8.18

Very much on display at the recent City Council meeting was what I would describe as the two cities of Malibu, one angrily testifying with justification what they witnessed in the wildfire of last month, the other vainly absolving itself.

As I comment on radio 99.1 KBUU and select websites, my two city theory is at the core of the mismanaged fire, and more generally at the disappointment and discontent with the city administration and the strident calls for the dismal of the city manager, Reva Feldman, and her top staff.

It is the city manager that in effect acts as a de facto mayor, at the helm of a bureaucratic construct that is the dominant city, its rank and file experiencing their domain in the glare of computer screens, their responsibilities spelt out in bureaucratic babble.

As for our hapless mayor, Rick Mullen, you had to rail at him at the meeting looking bored while oozing insincerity. Whatever he said had to be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism, in light of the LA Times story revealing that he had padded his overtime snoozing away at the fire station to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars last year.  He leaves as mayor this Monday, not soon enough. What an embarrassment.

The other city I would describe as a resident conceit, be they a homeowner or renter, for the most part pleased to be living in arguably one of the world’s most agreeable climates, 21 miles of scenic beauty, not withstanding escalated real estate prices, the bane of the PCH, and frustration with local government.

For most of the last quarter of the century since Malibu was incorporated, the conflict between the two cities has been considered minimal; with residents periodically protesting development with limited success. And if even aware of alleged problems of cronyism and mismanagement, most residents deferred to the city manager form of government. 

As exposed in the fire, there are real problems in the limits of local government, as there are problems in governments everywhere at every level, as skeptics note in defense of their disinterest in any political accountability.

 So much for the concept of home rule and Jeffersonian Democracy. There is a lot of talk in Malibu these days for reforms, but few people appear ready to spend the time necessary to make government work.

However, this might have changed. Listening to residents in the wake of the fires, I believe, the inherent conflict of the two cities has been brought to the front burner, and to a boil, that fateful Friday of November 9th .

It is then when the unchecked fire roared into Malibu, destroying in its capricious path hundreds of homes thought in the past to be safe.

So, while saddened residents are sifting through the ashes of their homes, I contend it’s time for the incoming council to sift through the city’s service contracts with administrators and consultants, as part of a needed review of the debacle.

And hopefully it will do so with the aid of a little Hoover Commission and independent interest groups, such as the L.A. Emergency Preparedness Foundation. Let’s really find out who was responsible, and who was irresponsible, who pretended to serve our city but in harsh reality just served themselves, before we lynch anyone. I hate lynch mobs.