Seen any good movies lately? Yes! You’d better catch “Janis” now because it may be gone two days after you read this. The new doc is at the Laemmle Royal and it’s outstanding, for the performance footage never before seen and heard (except by me, and Rick) and for the emotional impact. Joplin’s life was rarely not sad and difficult, except for that magical hour on the stage. Rick said he cried.
I mention my longtime friend Rick because while having no connection to the film industry and only non-pro music passion all his life, he wound up with an on-screen credit because he contributed some of the crucial footage that even the estate had not seen.
This film reminds you, through your eyes and ears and straight to your heart, what a rare talent she was, and how precious and fragile. Forget the worthy pop of “Bobby McGee” – there are songs here that unnerve you. She sang from another world, guided by forces but hitting every note exactly right, even in a scream. Raw power from unbearable pain.
How did Rick get this priceless stuff? Don’t ask. Let’s just say he’s had great music adventures since he was a teen and has been trading and collecting rare, unreleased recordings from around the world since you had to do it by cassette or even reel-to-reel with some guy in Poland.
The other was “Trumbo,” so good for so many reasons and so current to today’s McCarthyism. Brian Cranston kills the lead and the story exposes not just his large personality and even larger talent but the human cost of the Hollywood blacklist. Never again? Better vote against all the GOP Joes. I saw it at our new Arclight Theater, a pretty amazing place for so many reasons, including great sound and scrumptious bar food in the lobby. Very high ticket prices, but the seats are wide and plush.
On another good note, I moseyed by Liquid Kitty Sunday evening, their live music night, to catch Lucky Otis, son of Shuggie, grandson of the great Johnny Otis, and he was well worth a couple of cheap drinks. Singing from a deep mysterious swampy place and playing fretless bass, his band, nicely set off by a good conga player, emanated a lumbering low-slung beast of a swampy music that, while a bit repetitive, was something to behold on a Sunday night when the rest of the city has already given up on the week.
On a sour note, I confirmed that the building has been sold and they have only until next August. A real loss, this dark but welcoming musicians’ cool hang, next door to the music ghosts of old Club 88. I will miss it.
By the time you read this we will have a new mayor, and I was fortunate to attend his swearing-in ceremony a couple weeks ago. More ex-mayors than you could shake a subpoena at, but still fun. The part I will always remember: the killer mariachi band, with harp and sweet innovative horn and vocal arrangements. Have a rockin’ year, Mayor Vazquez!
Saturday, go classy-cal, with the Santa Monica Symphony performance of outstanding film compositions plus Beethoven’s Third, Barnum Hall at Samohi, 7:30, lecture at 6:30, free. No “Jingle Bells.”
Like Rodney Dangerfield
To Goose Island, anyway. They’re the craft brewing company out of Chicago who make a fantastic line of strong, distinctive beers, that I’ve loved so much. But they don’t love me back.
Their Bourbon County Stout is still my favorite beer in the universe. Previously available here only a couple times a year, in the cask at one bar, the Daily Pint, the new bottles are 10 or 11 bucks each. But it’s a 17-ounce bottle, and you don’t chug it like PBR, you sip it like a fine wine or Scotch, one please for a party of four, probably best at room temp or only slightly chilled.
I should be writing about only beer, and not silly stuff like politics, music, Santa Monica or social issues. I’ve had so many people contact me since last week to ask, where can I get it? (Even though I cautioned that the strong stout taste is not for everyone).
I got mine at Ralph’s near UCLA but the one at Wilshire and Bundy also carries it (Cloverfield doesn’t), and a couple of people who work at Bundy Ralph’s told me it’s almost flying off the shelves, even at that price. I’d like to think it’s all because of my lil’ ole’ column, but, well, maybe some people tasted it before that.
“One guy this morning bought 10, another guy 14 or 15,” I was told at Bundy Ralph’s, and the security guard who overheard nodded confirmation.
I’ve also heard from people who got it at Whole Foods, and Surf Liquors at Main and Ocean Park but they don’t have that many left, “and when it’s gone, that’s it until next year,” they said.
What?! No one told me that! No one at Goose Island. Because despite me being one of their biggest fans and writing about it twice before (going back to early 2014), no one at Goose Island has ever gotten back to me. One email only, from a guy who signed himself “Your Friend at Goose Island” and said he had “passed [my] information over to the proper folks at the brewery,” but then stone silence. I even tried to contact CEO Andy Goeler through LinkedIn a few days ago, but more silence.
Maybe they avoid the press because Goose Island was swallowed up by Anheuser-Busch in 2012, and the usual byproduct of such a takeover is cost cutting and shortcuts resulting in a product that is a shadow of its former self. After a nominal time of leaving the Goose execs in place, an A-B marketing VP took the reins.
But to be honest, the bottled version, while understandably not up to its caskmate, tastes pretty fabulous to me. Even if I drink it through the bitter tears of my unrequited love from The Goose.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Fascism is capitalism in decay.” – Vladimir Lenin
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 email@example.com