Sunday 3/9 @ L.A. Weekly’s Essentials Food and Wine Event: noon – 5pm
Sunday 3/23 @ Downtown Flea in Chinatown: 10am – 4pm
Saturday 3/29 @ Grand Park Bookfest: noon – 5pm
And next month we’ll be at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! Stay tuned!
Oscar flown over the Hollywood Sign [graphic] / photo by Mike Mullen.
Hollywood is riding high this week on the heels of this Sunday’s Academy Awards. As you prepare your Oscar party menu and cast a friendly bet on what will take home the gold, here’s one more way to get into the spirit of the awards season. Did you know that the Los Angeles Public Library houses a vast collection of screenplays and scripts? Check out some of these Oscar-winning scripts to see the magic on the page before these stories were brought to life on the big screen. And for you aspiring screenwriters out there, the LAPL also has you covered on books about writing scripts.
What’s your vote for this year’s best screenplay?
Top photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection: A helicopter is seen flying an oversized Oscar statue over the Hollywood Sign in preparation for the 60th Academy Awards presentation on April 11, 1988 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
On Monday evening the “king of kitsch” and the “pope of trash” held court at downtown’s Orpheum Theatre. Co-presented by the Library Foundation and The Broad museum as part of the “The Un-Private Collection” series, artist Jeff Koons and filmmaker/author/photographer John Waters took the stage from opposite curtains like two opposing presidential candidates ready to debate—both in formal dark suits and politely shaking hands. The pair swiftly sat down and warmed up for the packed house of nearly 2,000 attendees to discuss Koons’ iconic body of work.
Holding tight to his clipboard of questions, Waters drilled Koons on his early days fishing for some sign of unhinged behavior of the artist as a young man. Undeterred by Waters’ playful prodding, Koons remained calm and upbeat as he spoke about his traditional upbringing in Baltimore—the one scathing story he remembered involved a “sexy” ceramic ashtray that he gravitated towards every time he visited his grandparents. Meanwhile, Waters, more easily inhabiting his outsider-artist status from an early age, confessed that as a child he constantly pretended to be the “nude descending the staircase.”
Waters also grew up in Baltimore and the two flashbacked to local haunts like a gaudy furniture store that either directly (Waters) or indirectly (Koons) inspired their art. They told a touching story about how Koons’ aunt and Waters’ mother, who both recently passed away, had lived in the same retirement home and used to exchange anecdotes about their provocateur nephew and son. Koons credited his aunt for taking him to art classes on the weekends, which helped to foster his early knack for drawing and gave him a sense of self. But he seemed to learn more about expressing feelings from music than art, “I started to become ambitious when I heard Led Zeppelin,” recalled Koons of driving around, cranking up Zeppelin and wanting to take his life in a different direction.
He enrolled in art school and on his first visit to the Baltimore Museum of Art he was humbled by all the great artists he had never heard of. Surviving this moment of realizing he didn’t know anything pushed him to become a disciplined student, and eventually a great artist. He explained how his paintings soon became bigger than the walls, so he naturally moved on to other mediums, producing the body of work that fans are familiar with today.
Waters curated slides of some of his favorite Koon pieces, including The Rabbit and Balloon Dog (Blue). When Waters asked how Koons felt about viewers who became confused or angry over his work, Koons seemed nonplussed. “The art happens inside the viewer,” said Koons. From his famous titillating rendering of Michael Jackson and his monkey Bubbles to a recent Lady Gaga album cover, Koons has been influenced by popular culture as much as he has been influenced by Plato and Kierkegaard. He emphasized how ultimately his art is about acceptance—accepting ideas and the self—and that is why he often incorporates familiar images and objects like garden gazing balls into his work. This accessibility has afforded him a huge following and success, which Waters astutely defined his own barometer of success by two things: “You can buy any book you want without looking at the price tag, and you don’t have to be around assholes.”
If you missed this memorable evening full of witticisms and insights on art, life, and the occasional divergence into sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, then you can watch the video below.
–Posted by Bridgette Bates and photos by Gary Leonard
Last fall, the Library Foundation launched Lost & Found at the Movies, a new series to celebrate the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. John Nein, a senior programmer of the Sundance Film Festival and curator of this new series, is focusing on lesser-explored areas of filmmaking to cultivate a conversation around film beyond the buzz of new releases. From unearthing historic photographs and film books from the Los Angeles Public Library’s archives to talking to some of Los Angeles’ biggest film nerds, Nein is combing the whole city for film treasures and bringing them to the stage. Free and open to the public at the downtown Central Library, the next event will take place this Friday, February 28th at 7:30 pm. All the events are built around a theme, so on the heels of Valentine’s Day this upcoming episode, Love is a Many Splendored Things, will explore love at the movies. We talked to Nein about some of his own movie loves and what movie-lovers can look forward to this Friday.
John Nein with Kenneth Turan.
Where did the idea for Lost & Found at the Movies come from?
Nein: Ken Brecher [President of the Library Foundation] first suggested doing a film culture series. There’s no shortage of great film-related events on upcoming releases, award seasons, and so on, but what excited me was the idea of bringing in anyone who has a passion for film—directors, writers, journalists, cinematographers, costume designers—to talk about personal cinema passions, perhaps even arcane interests that they don’t often have an opportunity or platform to talk about in any real depth. For instance, a filmmaker may get the chance to talk about their current work, but they don’t get the chance to talk about how much they love the Czech New Wave. We’ve imagined the series to be very eclectic in nature. You should feel like you’re flipping through a film magazine, but there’s a thematic connection within each event like an episode of “This American Life.”
You kicked off the first event by talking to film critic Kenneth Turan—a beloved and longtime voice in the film community. What “new” things did he have to say about film?
Nein: Kenneth Turan makes his living talking about films that are coming out, but what we talked about was Miyazaki, Max Ophüls, and how he loves this old 1920s French serialized film called “Fantomas.” We even got a chance to talk about Casablanca. We both appreciated that we could use clips and that’s what makes it engaging and fun for the audience.
Speaking of Casablanca, the upcoming event will take on the love story. What do you plan to explore?
Nein: The idea is to look at different kinds of love in movies and love for movies. Each segment of the night will have a different way of interpreting that. For example, we’ll be showing a couple of home movies of famous Hollywood couples like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. In another segment, I just spent a day driving all over Los Angeles to as many theatrical exhibition venues as I could manage in search of people whose passion is to show movies—places like the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Cinefamily, and the American Cinematheque.
Also, the special guest of the night is Stacie Passon who is the writer/director of Concussion, which I thought was one of the strongest films of last year that was overlooked by many. It’s a film that deals with love in a really sophisticated and difficult way. This is not movie warm and fuzzy, but Passon shows a way of depicting how profound cinema can be about human nature and relationships, and marriage in particular and we’re going to look through film history for the really rigorous takes on mature relationships (Rossellini, Cassavetes, Bergman).
Besides Concussion, what are some of the other movies you loved from last year that maybe we haven’t heard of?
Nein: We’ll talk about some of these on Friday, but Fill the Void is a completely unique love story that takes place in an ultra orthodox community in Israel—by virtue of being set there, I’ve never seen this type of film before and it’s a wrenching love story. The Spectacular Now is one of the most honest portrayals of teenage romance with all the edges. Cutie and the Boxer is one of the best documentaries from last year, and even though it’s nominated for an Oscar, it was overlooked by many. It’s so observant of mature love about a tumultuous marriage between two artists.
You spend the year travelling to film festivals around the world in search of new work to screen at Sundance. What are some great films we should be on the lookout for this upcoming year?
Nein: We’ll also talk about some of these films I’m most excited about this year on Friday, which won’t all be love stories like Calvary, which stars Brendan Gleeson as a good priest tormented by his townspeople. Lunchbox, set in Mumbai, is a love story between an accountant and a housewife that starts when the lunchbox she sends her husband inadvertently goes to the accountant. And Mike Leigh’s new film, which we assume will premiere at Cannes and is about J.M.W. Turner, the British artist.
Where do you see the rest of the series going this year?
Nein: We’re hoping to do an episode called “All About Evil,” which occurred to me when I was thinking about characters in the Coen brothers’ movies, but this will stretch way beyond that. I’m talking to Buck Henry about Shakespeare on film, and I think later this year we’ll do something about documentary portraits.
Last, but not least, the Oscars are this weekend. In your professional opinion, what’s going to win Best Picture?
Nein: Gravity. But I’m always wrong.
Learn more about the upcoming Lost & Found at the Movies. Admission is free and space is limited, so please make your reservations online early.
Bookmark This #18
February is the month of love, and we love sharing reading recommendations with you, especially as the 26th Annual Stay Home and Read a Book Ball is just around the corner. What a fun way to love and celebrate the Los Angeles Public Library by lounging around the house and reading a good book!
Louise Steinman is the Chair of this year’s Stay Home and Read a Book Ball. The founder and curator of the award-winning ALOUD series at Central Library, she is also the author of three books, most recently The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation.
Louise recommends Women Without Men,’by Shahrnush Parsipur.
“When the artist Shirin Neshat spoke at ALOUD last December, she mentioned her first film was based on the novella ‘Women Without Men’ by Shahrnush Parsipur. Both Neshat and Parispur are Iranian-born, and both live in exile in the U.S. Parsipur spent years in Iranian prison, under the Shah as well as under the rule of the mullahs– who banned her novels. Women Without Men follows the interwoven destinies of five women—among them a schoolteacher, a wealthy housewife, and a prostitute—who by various means find their way to a lush magical garden outside Tehran. Parsipur weaves together recent Iranian history with age-old Dervish tales. One woman returns from the dead as a clairvoyant ghost. Another plants herself as a tree in the garden where the others nourish her with human breast milk. Women Without Men is a provocative and poetic portal into women’s lives in a tradition-bound society.”
Marsha Hirano-Nakanishi is a past president of the Los Angeles Public Library Board of Commissioners. She recently spent a weekend in San Francisco with book lovers stalking Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett, and Maltese Falcon locations.
Marsha recommends Lillian & Dash by Sam Toperoff.
“After rereading the Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and Joe Gores’ Maltese Falcon prequel Spade and Archer, I plunged into Toperoff’s reimagining of the on-again, off-again love affair of Dashiell Hammett and playwright Lillian Hellman from their meeting during Depression-era moviemaking in Hollywood through the Spanish Civil War, Hellman’s successes and failures on Broadway, World War II, HUAC, through to Hammett’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery in 1961. Using the voices of Dash and Lillian to illuminate their contrasting remembrances, criticism, encouragement, and caring, the third person narrator stitches the part-gossip, part-factual, part-imagined 30-year journey together.”
When Roz Bonerz was eight years old, she won her first “Bookworm” pin from the local library. She had to read 12 books over the summer vacation to become an official “Bookworm,” and she has been a “Bookworm” ever since.
Roz recommends The Road Home by Rose Tremain.
“In Rose Tremain’s The Road Home, you travel with Lev- a Russian immigrant, from the small town of Baryn to London on a bus. Lev is looking for work. He goes from distributing flyers to dishwashing to prepping vegetables to being a chef as we follow his life in London. We’re with him through all his trials and adventures, two steps forward, three steps back. Lev is easy to like; he’s kind, hard-working, but prone to trouble. I stayed with him through it all with a sense of wonder and wow. In the end, it’s all about the writing- the beautiful writing of Rose Tremain.”
Maureen Moore is the Associate Director of ALOUD and an avid cultural enthusiast. If her job permitted, she’d spend her time traveling the world collecting stories, snapping photos, sipping coffee, and contributing the occasional post to her ‘cultural musings’ blog.
Maureen recommends LA Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi.
“LA Son: My Life, My City, My Food is a chance to ride shotgun with Roy Choi. The narrative takes you on an odyssey through our state, from the early days of his family’s culinary outings when they trekked up to Santa Barbara for abalone or to Indio for bean sprouts for his mom’s bi bim bap to his first time eating a banh mi in the O.C. Food has colored Choi’s world from the moment he entered it, and LA Son blends those stories with the rhythm of his bad boy street slang, keeping things picante, just like the salsa roja of LA’s most flavorful taco from the famous Kogi BBQ truck. When I first learned of the title of the book, I thought he’d called it, ‘LA SoHn’ …Son…as in the musical rhythm, the backbone of Latin music – the one you hear driving down Whittier Blvd. or cruising through MacArthur Park. It’s that rhythm and soul that he puts into his food and everything he does. The beat on the page keeps up. Choi-isms are sprinkled throughout like little pieces of advice next to his recipes: drink, burp, smile. Choi’s voice is practically in your ear, and the promise of his culinary creations meeting your palate is just a few bites away.”
Noel Ople is a new intern for the Library Foundation. He loves yoga. Practicing for more than two years, he finds it absolutely amazing both physically and mentally and plans to obtain yoga teacher training certification this summer.
Noel recommends Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
“One of my favorite books is Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I don’t think I’ll be doing any traveling into the wild any time soon, but the idea of leaving everything behind and going on a journey of self-discovery was really inspiring, especially to a younger, more rebellious version of myself.”
More than 6 million books are available through the Central Library, 72 branches and www.lapl.org and include print, audio and digital formats. Browse through the catalog and bookmark your own must-reads for the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball!
If you want to share what you’re reading, contact Membership Director Erin Sapinoso at firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend a book for an upcoming post.
Happy reading, and stay tuned for next month’s issue of Bookmark This!
Preliminary results are in!
Dorothy Parker is going to be a busy lady on Friday, February 28, 2014. So far, the majority of Stay Home and Read a Book Ball celebrants have selected this witty wisecracker as their desired guest for this most highly anticipated “non-event”. Runner ups are Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, Homer, and Phillis Wheatley.
We have also received a number of write-in Ball guests including: Jason Aaron, MK Asante, Jane Austen, Maeve Binchy, Jesus Christ, Charles De Lint, Roddy Doyle, Jane Gardam, Natsuo Kirino, Doris Lessing, Penelope Lively, China Mieville, Margaret Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Kenneth Roberts, Grace Schulman, Donna Tartt, and Mark Twain.
Even Anjelica Huston let us know she’s got a sizzling escort for the Ball: “I am very excited because I have a hot date tonight with an extremely handsome companion. We are going to share a bubble bath. Although we have known about each other for a while, this will be a chance to get to know him better; after all, you can’t tell a book by his cover…”
Let us know who you’re staying home with! #LFLAStayHome
From the gritty drama of noir to the free-spirited poetry of the Beats, how does the literature of California tell us who we are? This Thursday, February 20, ALOUD kicks off the second part of this special home-grown conference in collaboration with The Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. Free and open to all at the downtown Central Library, Tales from Two Cities will explore the language, culture, and aesthetic that has helped to shape the writing of California. Here’s the full schedule of events, but for a sneak preview at some of the California voices gathering this week, check out these highlights from past ALOUD programs.
Walter Mosley, Between the Sheets: Sex, Literature, and the Future of Erotic Fiction. Listen to the podcast here.
Attica Locke, The Future of African American Literature and the Paradox of Progress. Listen to the podcast here.
David Ulin in Conversation with Joan Didion.
Poet Gary Snyder. Listen to the podcast here.
Have you waited too long and still need to get that special person a unique gift that looks like you thought about it months in advance? Have no fear! The Library Store can fulfill all your Valentine’s Day needs. Whether you need a gift that says “I love you” or “I think I like you,” we have cards and a unique selection of items that will be sure to please. Just stop by and we’ll help you find what you need. We’ll even wrap it so you look like you are really on top of it.
Will you be mine?
The Library Store
I’m excited to officially invite you to celebrate the 2014 Stay Home and Read a Book Ball with me. Here’s an opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and simultaneously keep alive the mission of the Los Angeles Public Library to “Provide free access to ideas and information.” By deciding not to get dressed up, not to drive across town, and not to valet park at some glittery ballroom, you’re playing a vital role in making available free cultural and educational programs for Angelenos throughout the city. Presto-digito!
Just think, when you contribute to the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, you encourage public discourse through programs like ALOUD, which presents more than 70 free author talks and conversations every year with internationally acclaimed novelists like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood; human rights legends like Judge Albie Sachs and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee; master short story writers like George Saunders and Lorrie Moore; and, great chefs like L.A.’s own Roy Choi.
For my own evening as Official Stay-At-Home Philanthropist, I’ve plotted a few scenarios. Take one: Brocade dressing gown. Apricot silk mules. Seated at dressing table. Dostoevsky. Or maybe Patricia Highsmith. Cigarette holder. Bushmills with one rock. Take two (more likely): Old sweatpants. Curled up on couch under red wool blanket. Fat grey cat staring into my eyes. Rereading Charlotte’s Web. Mug of hot masala chai.
Remember, you are the key to making possible cultural and educational programs like ALOUD for the people of Los Angeles. So, just before you take the first sip or turn the first page, whip out your checkbook (or credit card) and please… give generously. Then, turn out the porch lights. Put your feet up. You’re not expecting anyone – just a rendezvous with those clever, persnickety, angst-ridden characters in your favorite book. Have a ball!
Louise Steinman, Chair