Posts Tagged 'los angeles'

A Clip From Los Angeles Plays Itself

Here’s a clip from Thom Andersen‘s brilliant Los Angeles Plays Itself. See it at the theater if you can, because I doubt it will ever get to DVD. Here’s a list of all the flicks mentioned in the film. And here’s an article about Los Angeles movies a year or so after his movie was released.


Voting in LA


I voted, dammit. I filled in the little bubble and in process, hopefully, help right an eight year wrong.

The line for my district, deep in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, was longer than I’ve ever seen, stretching a long city block. I actually enjoyed the hour or so wait it took, because I actually had the chance to meet some of people in my neighborhood. We talked about the massive Korean skyrise/shopping center that was getting built across the street, bus service, and the need for more public transportation.

Then this Korean-American kid, maybe 24, carrying a Bible started and kept shouting “Vote Yes on Proposition 8. Protect Marriage.” For those of you not in California, that the regressive,  completely evil anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. After about 20 minutes of this, a group of us shouted at him to shut up. It’s electioneering and illegal, not to mentioned completely annoying. Then he started praying loudly for our souls and for the banning of gay marriage. Finally, one girl grabbed an election volunteer who got the guy in charge of the polling station, a no-nonsense Indian guy, who told Korean preacher guy to zip it or he’ll call 911. Preacher tried to argue a little but eventually shut up.

And I voted no on Prop. 8 and yes on Barack Obama. And I’ve never been prouder to wear my “I Voted” sticker.

Links (9/3/08)

A handy diagram of what to say and what not to say during sex.

A Japanese company, catering to women who want to divorce, employ professional seducers on their soon-to-be ex-husbands.

The top 25 movies about LA in the past 25 years according to the L.A. Times.

‘Camoflague’ by Chinese artist Liu Bolin.

A great article from k-punk about Wall-E and sci-fi. [h/t Ted]

Really no idea what to make of this blog called “The Pryamid at the Center of the World.” (sic)

A fascinating article about the future of English.

2000 AD: We children beg you, teacher, that you should teach us to speak correctly, because we are ignorant and we speak corruptly…

3000 AD: *ZA kiad w’-exùn ya tijuh, da ya-gAr’-eduketan zA da wa-tAgan lidla, kaz ‘ban iagnaran an wa-tAg kurrap…

[Via Boingboing]

And then there’s this heart-warming tale.

By The Associated Press

MODESTO, Calif. – Police say a man tried to cut off his own arm at a restaurant in Modesto, Calif., because he thought he had injected air into a vein while shooting cocaine and feared he would die unless he took drastic action.

Authorities say 33-year-old Michael Lasiter rushed into the Denny’s restaurant late Friday and started stabbing himself in one arm with a butter knife he grabbed from a table.

They say that when that knife didn’t work Lasiter took a butcher knife from the kitchen and dug it into his arm.

Police Sgt. Brian Findlen says Lasiter told officers he thought he needed to amputate his arm to keep himself from dying from the cocaine injection.

Lasiter was taken to a hospital for treatment of severe cuts.

The Denny’s closed for the night.

That last line is the clincher for me.

Finally, a youtube clip that’s been posted a lot but deserves to be seen more.

My Brush with Low-Level Religious Terrorism

Ok. For someone who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, I have an odd confession. I hate driving. I’m not scared of cars, but I loathe being dependent on them. And the grinding tedium of stop and go traffic often leaves me more aggravated than a full eight hours on the job. So I take the bus a couple times a week.

The thing I like about the bus, aside from not lining Dick Cheney’s pocket with more of my hard-earned money, is that I get a half-hour or so of reading in before and after work. It’s a nice buffer between the bustle of the office and relative quiet of home. And this morning I was eager I dive into my new book, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. I’ve been wanting to read this puppy since I read an excerpt in the New Yorker some two or three years ago. Yet the moment I get a seat and open my book, some guy next to me who looked like a thinner version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and who was sporting an outfit that looked like a silken Mao suit opened his book, the Bible, and started spouting off a sermon. Using the bendy part of the bus as his pulpit, he delivered Biblical commandments in a booming, sonorous voice that was almost impossible to block out. Almost immediately, I pipe up saying, “Please don’t. This is a crowded bus…” but that didn’t even register. Between Western and Westwood, I don’t think the guy paused for more than five seconds. I realized with greater and greater frustration that there was no way I was going to be reading my book this morning. Nothing short of a kick to the teeth is going to shut him up.

He continued, “You work five days a week, six days a week. But then you send all of your money at clubs, the bars. You hook up with prostitutes. Go to crack houses?” Jesus, how does this guy spend a weekend? Once we rolled into Westwood, he shambled off and the whole bus said a collective, “Hallelujah.” Yes, I thought. This was my brush with low-level religious terrorism.

Links (7/21/08)

From my trolling of the internets:

The Chinese government, terrified of something embarrassing happening during the Olympics, have successfully embarrassed themselves. They’re forcing bars not to serve blacks or Mongolians. Link

And there’s this really depressed photo essay of the down and out Silvertown neighborhood of London. Link [h/t Ted]

More green screen hilarity with John McCain. [h/t Joan]

A really cool, if regrettably short, article about the town of Baarle-Hertog in Belgium.

Baarle-Hertog borders the Netherlands – but, because of its unique history of political division, the town is sort of marbled with competing national loyalties. In other words, pockets of the town are Dutch; most of the town is Belgian. You can thus wander from country to country on an afternoon stroll, as if island-hopping between sovereignties. [via BoingBoing]

Believe it or not, Los Angeles used to have the finest public transportation around, thanks in part to Henry Huntington. There was the Pacific Electric Railway company AKA “The Red Cars” which had streetcar lines reaching to the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, and Santa Ana and there was the competing Los Angeles Railway (LARy) that was also known as the “Yellow Cars.” They were ripped out in the early ’60s and soon afterwards Los Angeles became synonymous with traffic snarls and freeway shootings. Some historical background can be found here. And here’s this youtube clip from LA Curbed about the last days of the LA Railways. Sigh.

Hancock (2008)

All han, no cock. This film is going to be panned. The reasons are primarily poor direction and a lousy sense of tone. For a film billed as a big blockbuster, Hancock lacks any sense of the spectacular. Instead it feels remarkably small, introspective and slight. That said, Hancock did pass the minimum standard of a Hollywood mall movie, I was reasonably entertained during the course of the film, no doubt because of Will Smith‘s very bankable charisma. During the walk to the car, however, my estimation of the flick starting taking a nose dive.

The premise is that Hancock (Smith) is the only superhero in the world, and as a result, he’s a drunk hateful slob. The first quarter or so of the film shows Hancock drunkenly trashing half of Los Angeles to save the day. It’s big budget slapstick and at times pretty damned funny. He’s a superhero with terrible PR but fortunately Ray (Jason Bateman), a PR guy, steps into reform the hero’s image. This includes getting him to don a superhero suit, learn to be nice to the cops, and to go to jail for a spell to serve out the 600 or so warrants for his arrest. In jail, he goes to AA and generally learns to stop being a jerk. At this point, with the film’s slapstick beginning souring into a redemption drama, I grew worried that the film wouldn’t have the energy to make it across the finish line. But no fear, there’s a twist. SPOILER ALERT: Ray’s wife Mary (Charlize Theron) is like Hancock a superhero and an immortal. And apparently they were lovers for a few thousand years but Hancock doesn’t remember that. He’s had amnesia for the past 80. So they fight, which includes trashing Hollywood for some reason. Ray finds out, of course. Suddenly, the movie becomes a domestic drama. By the time the movie ends, all of the energy of the first 20 or so minutes have completely dissipated.

Reportedly, this script has been bouncing around Hollywood for a long time and it has the feeling of having been reworked way too many times. Thematically, it hints at more interesting subtexts that never really materialize. Is Hancock a metaphor for American power in the cold war? Is it a reworking of the superhero genre? Is this a satire about power of PR? There’s so much fertile ground here that never gets mined, which is too bad. Instead, we get a movie that’s shallow and incoherent.

Director Peter Berg can’t seem to decide what kind of flick he’s making here. A farce? A family Drama? The tone of this movie is all over the map. Perhaps the low point of this incoherence was when Hancock was in prison and threatened by a couple thugs. The hero in turn threatens the thugs with jamming the head of one up the ass of the other. And then he does. Not only does Berg show the grizzly aftermath — which is both crass and completely unbelievable — but he then, inexplicably, has the Sanford and Son theme song kick in. WTF?

His sense of Los Angeles geography is similarly sloppy. This is a pet peeve of mine, especially after watching Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself. In the beginning of movie, Hancock is battling some baddies downtown who make a left turn and suddenly they’re all in the LAX area, some 15 miles away. Some explosions happen and then they are suddenly back in downtown. If this were the movie’s one sin, I wouldn’t beef. But this seems to speak to a higher level of sloppiness that permeates the film. But his most obvious — and damning — mistake is his directing style has been lifted straight from Paul Greengrass or Michael Mann (who produced the film). It works for Greengrass and Mann because they aren’t trying to be funny. Hancock, in theory, is. The Bourne Ultimatum-style shaking camera is plainly wrong for this script.

Will Smith manages to almost keep the movie watchable. But if you possess even the barest of critical faculties, you will probably have an annoying walk to the car.

Links (6/24/08)

Brian Eno and Kevin Kelly published a list of unthinkable futures 15 years ago in the Whole Earth Catalog. Now you can read in here. [via Boing Boing]

A very cute cartoon series about pandas and the recent Sichuan earthquake.

You all will be glad to know that the 61-year old British grandmother who started running around the world in 2003 has returned back to the UK in spite of being approached by a drunken guy with a bloody ax in Siberia, encountering a polar bear, and receiving 29 marriage proposals.

Really cool animation of a John Lennon press conference.

Continuing with Hilarious McCain blow ups — a funny viral video about John McCain dropping the C bomb on his wife.

I should have been a lot nicer to Steve Guttenberg.

East-side Angeleno culture in the Far East. [via LA Curbed]

The top ten political sex scandals in US history.

A helpful guide to the shadowy groups that run the world.

Now, THIS is a resignation letter.

Geek gets a 15 inch tall robot girlfriend.

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