Arts & Culture, Environment, Featured, Interviews »

Blue mind: Why we love water

"Life on The Beach" by Motorito via Flickr/CC

One of my favorite things to do after a stressful work day is drive up the Pacific Coast Highway – to Point Mugu – and plant my rear-end in the sand or on a rock, or walk a few feet into the Pacific. The smell of the salt water, the sound of crashing waves – it’s zen for me.
I certainly don’t think I’m alone. …

Arts & Culture, Featured »

Who is your favorite LA songwriter? KCRW’s Anthony Valadez and others weigh in!

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The Mamas & the Papas longed to be “safe and warm” in L.A. Tom Petty sang about a “freeway runnin’ through the yard.” And in “L.A. is My Lady,” Frank Sinatra crooned: “I brought her my wildest of dreams and she came up with the answer.”
The long list of songs about Los Angeles includes odes to cruising on Sunset, experiencing the rare rainy day, …

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Wrecking ball claims Beverly Hills retail landmark

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Demolition work has begun on a dilapidated Beverly Hills department store that once represented the height of elegant shopping in L.A. The old Robinson-May building on Wilshire Boulevard is coming down, but it’s not yet known what will be going up in its place. A previous owner had secured city approval to build a large condo complex designed by Getty Center architect Richard …

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Learning about Yiddish life before the Holocaust

Students participating in the Helix Project perform a Yiddish song at a home in Studio City.

If you ask American Jews, or really just most Americans, to picture what it was like to live as a Jew in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, chances are you imagine a scene from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
The tale by Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem tells the tale of Tevye the dairyman and his daughters in the poor village of Anatevka.
But the real story …

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Photos: Remembering Pacific Ocean Park

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From the late 1950s to the late ‘60s, Angelenos looking for music, dancing and rides, found the party at Pacific Ocean Park.
The beachside theme park – that jetted out into the Pacific – sat on 28 acres of land at the border of Santa Monica and Venice.
It featured rides created by Hollywood set designers, setting it apart from the standard, ordinary rides at Santa …

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The strange sounds – and history – of the theremin

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If there’s any instrument that gets misunderstood and under-appreciated in music, it’s the theremin.
Countless bands have employed the warbly, eerie-sounding electronic instrument, from The Pixies to the White Stripes. It was perhaps most famously used by The Beach Boys in “Good Vibrations.”
The theremin was created by a Russian physicist, Lev Sergeyevich Termen. He’s the main character in “Us Conductors”, the debut novel by Montreal-based …

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Skid Row artists display their work at MOCA

SKID ROW feature

Downtown LA’s Skid Row hosts the largest concentration of homeless people in the country.
KCRW’s Press Play  covered the city’s latest efforts to address the growing number of people affected by homeless.  The recent Department of Veterans Affairs scandal has motivated many, including First Lady Michelle Obama, to scrutinize how we care for our country’s homeless veterans.
Local officials are trying to change their approach to homeless …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Taiko drumming: ‘Not just Asian anymore’

Maz Baba

This week, 500 international masters and scholars of Taiko have descended on Los Angeles for an unprecedented gathering.
They’re dissecting every aspect of this unique style of drumming and performance, and this weekend in Little Tokyo, they’ll show their stuff in several public performances.
To mark the occasion, we spoke with Masato Baba, considered to be the best Taiko drummer in the United States. A native …

Arts & Culture, economy, Featured, Issues, Politics »

Sonia Nazario on children crossing the US border: ‘It’s a modern day odyssey’

The Mexican border at Sasabe Arizona
Photo: Phillip Capper via Flickr/ CC

When author Sonia Nazario wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book  “Enrique’s Journey” in 2006, nobody was paying much attention to the number of children coming across the US border. Now, as the New York Times reports, “more than 52,000 children have been caught crossing the United States border alone since October — double last year’s number.”
Back in March, Warren spoke with Nazario about the book, …

Arts & Culture, Headline, Interviews »

Hueman walks the line between fine art and street art

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Last year, Los Angeles City Council got rid of a decade-long ban on murals, which means that LA’s future is looking more brightly colored than ever. One artist who is already bringing new work to the street is a woman who goes by the name Hueman.
Allison Torneros, aka Hueman, doesn’t fit the typical street artist image. She’s a petite woman in her late twenties …

Arts & Culture, Headline »

One person’s trash is another’s masterpiece: Found objects as art in ‘Diverted Destruction’

Hollywood by Crystal Fischetti

Liz Gordon has been in the salvage business her entire adult life.  For the past 7 years, besides selling old stuff – knobs, chandeliers, fixtures of all sorts – she’s given it away, and encouraged people to make art with it.
She calls the effort “Diverted Destruction.”
This year’s theme is paper, aka the pulp edition.  (She’s already got next year’s picked out: Textiles.)  A show she’s …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews »

Tom Schnabel remembers jazz musician Charlie Haden

A photo of Charlie Haden from 2008, by Tim Dickeson.

The jazz world is mourning today the death of a great musician. Bassist Charlie Haden passed away at the age of 77, after a long illness.
Haden – a three-time Grammy winner – was born in the Midwest, but came to LA in the 1950s, enrolling at Westlake College of Modern Music.
His music and performances touched on political themes at times, a mirror of the …

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Origami physicist fuses art and science

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Dr. Robert J. Lang abandoned his career as a physicist to become a full-time origami artist, but that doesn’t mean he turned off the scientific part of his brain.
He describes his artistic process as one of the foremost artists in the craft as “almost mathematical, very geometric.  I take the subject and try to break down the subject mentally into component pieces and then …

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Escape from LA in Edan Lepucki’s “California”

Edan Lepucki at KCRW

Edan Lepucki’s debut novel, California, follows a young couple as they leave an apocalyptic Los Angeles for the wilderness to try to make it, away from what’s left of society.
It’s a book that deals with, obviously, escape. But also survival, family, camaraderie (or not), and grace under fire.
Lepucki’s book has already gotten lots of attention with a little help from an unlikely champion, the …

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Art in space! Echo Park gallery designs satellite art

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Here in Los Angeles, art is by no means confined to the walls of galleries and museums.  There are murals and billboards, parks and oceanfront boardwalks.
But one LA couple is sending their artwork to the final frontier – space.
They designed the exterior of a satellite that’s scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan at 8:58 a.m. PST on Tuesday.
Jon Gibson and Amanda White are the owners …

Arts & Culture, Headline »

The hidden history of California’s parks

Cathedral Cove
Crystal clear water, kelp forests, sea caves, sea birds, and sea lions all may be seen from the Cathedral Cove overlook on East Anacapa. (Photo: NPS.gov)

July 4th has come and gone, which means that summer is officially here. Given any thought yet to where you might go on vacation?
We’re looking at some of California’s less well-known state and national parks—going beyond the superstars like Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree to some of the places that tend to get passed by. Some of them, you can cover in a few hours. …

Arts & Culture, Featured »

Film reviews with LA Weekly’s Amy Nicholson

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There are plenty of movies that’ve taken place on the road. It’s a familiar set for Hollywood. Think “Rain Man,” “Due Date,” and of course, “Thelma and Louise.”
There’s a new one now open in theaters in LA. “Tammy” stars comedienne Melissa McCarthy in a road trip movie with McCarthy and her cursing, hard-drinking grandmother played by Susan Sarandon.
LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson fills …

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PHOTOS: Inside California’s first marijuana farmers market

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Farmer’s markets are a popular trend in Los Angeles, but the first-ever medical marijuana farmer’s market made its debut in East Los Angeles today.

Card-carrying medical marijuana patients braved 90 degree heat and a long line to get into the California Heritage Market in Boyle Heights.
“They’re definitely going to have to have better access because there’s a lot of people that want to be here,” …

Arts & Culture, Headline, News »

The story of our national anthem, and the man who wrote it

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Most people know the name Francis Scott Key, and perhaps even that he wrote the country’s national anthem. Writer Marc Leepson‘s new biography What So Proudly We Hailed, reveals the history of the song, and more interestingly, the man.  It’s a perfect read this week as we commemorate the birthday of the United States.
Another timely reason for this book: It’s the 200th anniversary of the Star …

Arts & Culture, California Elections, economy, Headline, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, Runaway Production »

Mixer: LA County CEO headed out, so’s Hollywood production

friday mixer square

Los Angeles County CEO Bill Fujioka will retire in November, after more than seven years as the county’s top official.
Abby Sewell reports for the Los Angeles Times.
She says the county CEO has purview over 100,000 county employees and budgets and whatnot, but gets little attention aside from political writers and journalists.
Citing frustration with “the pace of reform”, Los Angeles County Supervisors scaled back Fujioka’s …

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