Sunday, December 07, 2008

Out of the Past: L.A. Lands Dudamel --- "Dudamania" Packs the Disney ..."Watch His Left Hand," Says the Lady with Opera Glasses ... And Away We Go! ...

From December 7, 2008 

Crazy town crammed with talent. Full of brilliant moments. Entertainment capitol. They know how. Here's the Disney Concert Hall, oh -- just maybe the most exalting piece of architecture in the United States. Taking over next year is 26-year-old Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel, already a global legend. He guest conducted last week. Houses sold out. I kept calling and nabbed a seat back of orchestra. They're calling the ticket rush "Dudamania," said lady next to me with opera glasses at the ready "to inspect him." Told me to watch Gustavo's left hand. I did, and it moves like a magic wand. Watch it work, World. For all the sparks charismatic Gustavo causes to fly, what a remarkably humble persona he cuts. Enters the music, becoming one with the musicians as I think Bernstein was known to do. Dudamel's embracement of Strauss's Alpine Symphony was eletriyfying (in truth, bringing tears to my eyes). Even the slower passsges, too, which he turned into mesmerizing whispers. At ovations, musicians turned around to applaud we in the seats. Unprecedented, lady with opera glasses told me. Orchestra seemed to be saying, yes audience, we ARE lucky. And so was I with camera. I could go on snapping Frank Ghery's masterpiece all day long (still don't have a digigal, but finally joined the cellphony crowd). In two snaps was all I needed. Snap on ...

The few moments each day when they are not in their cars, Angelinos long for higher things, such as humanizing Grand Avenue with a parkway. Here's the latest talked-about building. Trust me, minus that freeway, it impresses on the other side. Los Angeles is a region born of many rapes, from land stolen from the Gabrielino natives to water pumped away from Owens Valley farmers. Greatest rape of all, town did to itself: those ugly ugly ugly freeways. I hate hate hate them! ... And now, rape of the L.A. Times by a Chicago real estate mogul, it's latest owner. The demise of this once great newspaper, crumbling into populist-compromised drivel, could break your heart ...

Another new building, the Catholic Cathedral near the Disney. The airy hall inside is wonderfully liberated from austere old-world ambiance.

A photo I've long wanted to take: My great uncle, Hollywood scenario writer Eugene B. Lewis, lived in this Silver Lake house on North Benton at the time of his early death in 1924. He had moved west from New York Biograph in 1916 and was hired by Universal to head up 27 writers as scenario editor; Lewis later scripted silents for John Ford and other big players, including some who ended up in prison or (like Thomas Ince) murdered.

I like walking down this part of Sunset Boulevard along the Silver Lake-Echo Park stretch. Strewn with broken down yesterdays, a thousand lost nights ...

At the central library.

On Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. Cozy bohemian neighborhood. A thousand would-be screenwriters hang out with laptops in funky cafes. Most if not all remain would-bes. It's fun anyway.

Mako, that's the name of the place -- finally; for years it had no name. Friendly hole in the wall next to the movie house on Vermont. Japanese. Great simple meals -- tempura, Teriyaki shish kabob, Vegies in fried rice, rich and sizzling, filling and priced to keep you gratefully coming back.

A burger-borrito car wash add-on, at Hollywood and Vermont.

The Vista lives on. When I lived in L.A., the perfect old movie house to watch Astaire-Rogers flicks. Now, it's upgrade city inside: Every other row has been removed to give you leg room fit for Astaire and Rogers.

Saw this very engaging -- if sanitized -- new film that tracks Harvey Milk's political career.

On my way to see Wicked, at last. Had the time Friday evening, and they had the tickets -- far from a sellout at the Pantages. (Be sure, just once, to get the cheapest seat up in the Gods -- the ceiling chandeliers and fixtures are out of this world) As for Wicked, I loved most of its first act; what followed intermission went all over the place and took hours to get there. Will somebody please take a pair of scissors to this wickedly undisciplined mess? Wicked witch, turn on your own!

Once a lovely park, they turned Pershing Square into a concrete insult, and they will live to regret it until it gets bombed out of existence.

Union Station, my favorite place, and so hard to photograph.

I'm still a sucker for the tinsel in tinsel town. Show me any palm tree in cement --now if it's L.A. cement, oh, what a glamorous tree!


[all photos by Showbiz David]


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