DID YOU THANK THE ANGELS? Longtime Vidiots customer Dr. Leonard Lipman and film producer Megan Ellison (“The Master,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Her,” “American Hustle,” “Foxcatcher” – pretty impressive list!) stepped forward with big checks to save our local cinema treasure trove, after we learned a couple weeks ago that the lights would very soon go dark, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. But come on, didn’t your parents teach you to say thank you?

A postcard — no, two postcards, with a short personal note would do, sent to Leonard Lipman and Megan Ellison in care of Vidiots, 302 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405.

I dropped mine by personally on Monday and happened to run into owner-founders Cathy Tauber and Patty Polinger, taking measurements by the front desk like, well, like there was a tomorrow. They have been true BFFs, since age 3, and of course they were thrilled with the great news.

They told me they had already received a few thank you cards, and would collect and pass them on soon.
So send thank you notes but don’t send your scripts or treatments for Ellison. Of course, no one would do that, try to take advantage of this situation, would they? That would be just too crass.

Oh yes they would. Tauber told me they already had one inquiry about sending a script. Sheesh. Writers. So desperate, pushy, and lacking common sense and social graces.

Ellison has expressed a desire to help Vidiots explore new territory, and that sounds exciting for Santa Monica. Many here still think of Vidiots as “that video store” where you can rent a DVD for a couple of nights, but since they turned it into a non-profit years ago, with a mission to “preserve, protect and educate” (“we believe in the act of browsing, and carrying,” said Polinger, “touching physical media”), their foundation has been putting on remarkable events in their small Annex room, equipped with a 120″ screen, surround sound, HD DVD and computer projection. Free screenings, with background info from the very knowledgeable staff. Spoken word events. And interviews with remarkable directors, by remarkable interiewers.

I remember the one a year ago with Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” and “It Might Get Loud” — the best rock doc ever, I feel). The first words out of his mouth that night: “You come into Vidiots and there’s something sacred about this place.”

“We hope to be the last ones standing,” said Polinger. “We’ve been saying that for a while.” And now it looks possible, because of two real life cinema angels who may be earning their George Bailey wings for this.
When I left I noticed the raw food restaurant next door to Vidiots that went bust has been replaced by… a raw food, organic restaurant.

MORE FILM. You may have heard of the recent kerfuffle over continuing the film program at Samohi, run by Bill Wishart. Without going into the details now, there is a possibility that funding for his classes and other work will disappear, and with it most of what he brings to our high school students.

That would be a crying shame, because Wishart is one of those rare teachers no one who’s had him forgets. His classroom is an enticing disarray of scattered chairs and equipment in which so much learning takes place. You can feel it when you walk in the room. Students are engaged, talking with and helping each other, and Wishart hovers and guides a lot.

He also runs RWS, Running With Speakers, which has given so many students, most of whom don’t go into film as a career, a facility with audio/video that serves them well throughout their lives. He puts in ungodly hours. He nurtures award-winning filmmakers. He makes sure every public event at Samohi is well-heard and recorded for posterity.

As final proof of … something, how many teachers have a coffee named for them? Go into the nearby Coffee Bean on Lincoln and Michigan and order the Bill. It will keep you going.

The school board meeting at the district offices on Feb. 19 is the one you’ll want to attend, to help plead his case, especially if you’re a former student of his. Catch up on the facts on the Facebook page put up about a week ago, “Alums for Mr Wishart.”

SOME MUSIC. Anyone thought the Grammys were great? Didn’t think so. I loved Usher and John Legend’s numbers, getting even a small piece of Stevie Wonder is a joy, and Prince takes over just by showing up. He totally rocked it in a Dreamsicle-hued suit and silver cane and his few words preceding the Album of the Year award he presented: “Albums – remember those?” he cracked, adding poignantly, “Like books, and black lives – albums matter.”

Tom Jones disappointed, Beyonce’s gospel number seemed somehow lacking inspiration. AC/DC rocked the opening, Sia tried but confounded, the President’s recorded speech to artists to address violence towards women was so needed, newcomer Sam Smith ruled the night with four trophies, but the real electricity came from a Scotswoman in her sixties singing a 60-year-old blues screamer, “I Put a Spell on You.” Maybe the best moment of the whole show was when Annie Lennox capped it with that look of fire in her eyes. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins would have grinned big and cackled.

Is there a bigger jerk in show biz than Kanye West? Not in my book. Some thought his “fake” at charging the stage when Beck received his Album of the Year Grammy was funny, poking fun at his own previous ill-mannered, childish escapades at awards shows. But he showed in classless remarks after the show that he was serious in his disdain of Beck and his conviction, again, that Beyonce should have gotten the award. He pontificated about “real artists” then showed us his integrity by saying the only reason he didn’t barge in on Beck was because he couldn’t put his wife, daughter, and especially his clothing line “at risk.”

I’ll bet he and Barry Bonds are good buddies. And they ride bikes with Lance Armstrong.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “”My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com.

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