Los Angeles is like a giant smorgasbord of options and things to see and do, especially during the summer months. While Santa Monica has been wracked with the debate over whether or not to continue to offer free concerts to the city on Thursday nights, there are other venues and opportunities across the southland.
I understand that the popularity of the Twilight Concert Series is creating both logistical and security concerns for the city. Crowds of that size demonstrate to me that the idea is popular, and maybe there are problems with the execution of the concerts, but is that a reason to kill the program? I’m still not convinced.
Even though the crowds are immense and I hate the traffic that they breed, it strikes me that this is a live example of the alleged Yogi Berra saying that “Nobody goes there anymore it’s too crowded.” How many people are more aware of the city of Santa Monica, the Pier and the fact that we offer cultural opportunities such as the Concert Series and do not attend? In the world of publicity and marketing I think this would be considered a win.
In the world of police forces, who always want to control people more, and disperse crowds and groups so that they are more easily dominated, this popularity is a great excuse to extend their over militarization and domination of society. It’s the fearmongering of the Far Right to put people in their place, which is under the boot of the police, all “for your safety.”
Into this debate of public arts and public safety, we must also consider the wealth of opportunities that exist for expanding our musical experiences. Take for example the world music series at the Skirball Cultural Center off the 405. My friend Jennifer Maxcy works there and they created this All Around The World music series that began this month. It runs every weekend with musical performances by bands performing music from around the world.
This summer there will be modern Yiddish soul by Klezmer Juice on Saturday the 15th and then Bluesy Gospel Rock by Whiskerman on Sunday the 16th. No music series would be complete without a reggae experience, and on the 22nd of July, Upstream will be performing, followed by Fish to Birds with improvisational vocal jazz. Rouding out July will be Malynda with Powerhouse vocals on the 29th and Heidi Swedberg on Sunday with Ukelele folk-pop on the 30th.
August will be ushered in with the African-Inspired music and dance of Adinkra on Saturday the 5th and then MôForro will transport audiences to Brazil with their hip-swiveling Brazilian dance music on Sunday.
The final days of the concert series will showcase T Sisters with sublime fold and bluegrass on Saturday the 12th, and completing the series will be Marizane with an retro indie rock concert Sunday the 13th.
Visiting the Skirball Cultural Center is easy off the 405 with Free On-Site Parking, but beware that there is NO street parking allowed. While you’re visiting you can enjoy the exhibition Paul Simon: Words & Music as a foundation for the concert series which runs now through September 3. Admission to the Skirball includes all exhibits, like the Noah’s Ark experience. Cost for admission is $12 General $9 Seniors (65 and up), Full-Time Students with ID, and Children over 12 $7 Children 2–12 FREE to Skirball Members and Children under 2 and best of all it is FREE to everyone on Thursdays.
The point of all this is to say that we have great opportunities all around us for cultural experiences, whether they are the free concerts like the Twilight Concert Series, or Thursday at the Skirball, or even if they cost a few dollars to attend. Life in Los Angeles is a rich and varied experience, and while the forces of fear and budgetary concerns are always trying to shut things down, a vibrant society demands the arts and open access to our public benefits.
While I hate the traffic the Concert Series creates, I can and do choose, to support the Series while avoiding the beach on Thursdays – maybe instead I’ll go to the Skirball…
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra