Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sex Worker's Art Show?

I just received random notification that the Sex Worker's Art Show is in town today! It's my birthday, so I have other plans, but if you don't you should totally go. It's always a fabulous, delightfully queer, sexy show. This venue seems to be a change from planned performances that got cancelled (or censored?). I'm sorry I wasn't on top of this ahead of time.

Wednesday, January 23rd
Mountain Bar
Chinatown, Los Angeles
8pm $10

The show is a combo of over the top drag, spoken word, performance art, burlesque and shenanigans
Annie Oakley
World Famous *Bob*
Dirty Martini
Kirk Read
Krylon Superstar
Erin Markey
Mistress Keva
Loralie Lee
Chris Kraus

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Industry town

Los Angeles is a strange place. We are, decidedly, a town that lives and dies by film, television, and automobiles. It's a decidedly entertainment industry town. I've lived other places (5 years in the Bay Area, brief stints in New York and Oxford) and never felt compelled to own a TV. But here in Southern California (including my suburban hometown), I couldn't imagine life without cable. As a result, I am fascinated by the writer's strike. I'm following it avidly. I've started reading the LA Times "Showtracker" blog for official news and I love Wired Magazine's Underwire blog which, among all the other things it covers, includes strike updates with writers' propaganda videos attached to the end of strike-related posts. And I must say, I've enjoyed several of the strike videos very much.

When the Daily Show and the Colbert Report came back on the air without their writers, I was profoundly disappointed that John Stewart and Stephen Colbert would cross picket lines, even though I was desperately craving their election coverage. I understand their predicament and that they might not have had much of a choice, and it was very clear that Stewart would have much preferred to make a deal with the writers giving them all their demands. I'm still very torn, but I'm watching both shows, and I have to say that I don't think they're doing too badly. The initial reviews were pretty scathing, but I must say that there's something charming about watching John Stewart trying his best and trying to have fun up there. He's a fascinating, smart interviewer and I very much enjoy him talking to authors and intellectuals - I don't miss the stars at all.

Now that the director's guild has settled, there's obviously a lot of pressure on the writers to make a deal before the Oscars, but there's a part of me that wants this strike to keep going. I want the strike to continue mostly because I think the writers are completely right, that the internet is clearly the future of television, and that the producers are trying to screw everyone else out of a fair share of the profits from the new medium. But part of me also wants to see what happens if the strike continues. Because I think there's a lot of hope out there for striking writers to change the face of the industry by working around and without the producers. There have been all sorts of rumors about writers starting their own projects, perhaps for internet distribution and it would be fascinating to see if it would be possible for some big name writers to transfer their TV and filmwriting talent to writing a high quality scripted internet content. How would it look different than TV or film content? Would it be shorter? Lower production values? What are the advantages of these formats?

I'm also fascinated by the other questions the strike raises. When the only new content on TV is reality programming, will people stop watching? Will people be cancelling cable subscriptions? Will the networks and/or the cable companies suffer? Moving Showtime content to network TV (Dexter will air on CBS in February) is a fascinating step. What else will the networks bring out of the vaults? Will we see old movies and premium cable programing in primetime? Will there be innovation, or just more of the same old reality shows? It will be a year or more until we feel the effects of the strike on films, but television will be suffering for quite a while, since already there are no pilots for next year's programming.

Of course, since this is an industry town, I know several screenwriters and aspiring screenwriters who are striking, and whose lives are profoundly interrupted as a result. For their sake, I hope business resumes soon so that they can pay their bills and so the local economy doesn't suffer more than it already has. But the strike makes very visible how the industry is changing, and I find that important and exciting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wacky pop culture intellectualism

Am I back? I don't know. Is this thing on? Does it matter?

I've been MIA for quite a while, from both my blog and my life. Working 3 jobs in academia last quarter led right into family holidays, a chosen family wedding (maybe thoughts on that later), and then the inevitable exhaustion and illness that comes from too much work and not enough sleep. I was in New York when the Butchlalis performed Dickwhipped at Highways, so I was sad to miss the show and even sadder that I was too sick to be doing fun fabulous queer and/or theater things in NYC while I was there. I am perhaps not yet hardy enough to live in New York - the cold weather and my flu-like symptoms made me want to sleep and watch movies and play Wii and never leave Brooklyn, so I did.

Looking forward, there are some pretty exciting public intellectualism kinds of events going on in the near future here in LA and in blogworld.

As you may or may not know, I've spent a bit of time in the last five years hanging out with musicologists, who are suprisingly fabulous and interesting people. A few pretty cool musicologist friends of mine are keeping a group blog called Musicology/Matters which, so far, is a fascinatingly idiosyncratic collection of ruminations on music-related issues ranging from what's up with this week's column in the New Yorker? to the tension between academic interest and guilty pleasures. They're smart folks, and I'm interested to see what they have to say to each other and the world.

Speaking of group music/culture blogs, apparently the fabulous Karen Tongson of USC is collaborating with some other smart folks (Christine Bacareza Balance and Alexandra Vazquez) across the country to blog about pop music, culture, and taste, and whatever else comes to mind at Oh! Industry. For their mission statement, start here. Though the blog seems to be well underway and going strong, they're throwing a launch party here in LA on January 17.

And if you're looking for some good live discussion of popular music, head to the REDCAT on January 22 for Listen Again in which a bunch of scholars and journalists get together and talk pop. The LA academic community is well-represented by Alice Echols, Bob Fink, Josh Kun, Judith Halberstam, and Karen Tongson, several of whom aren't strictly music scholars, so there will be a particularly fun, approachable, interdisciplinary vibe to the event. I can't speak for the many journalists who will also be participating in the event, but the scholars are smart and cool and interesting to hear talk. Plus, it's only $8 ($4 for students), so it's finally an event at the REDCAT I can afford!

Speaking of events at the REDCAT that I can't afford, The Wooster Group will be performing their Hamlet there at the end of the month. This will sell out. It will be weird and brilliant and deconstructed. Kate Valk will be playing both Ophelia and Gertrude. I need to see it. Anyone care to join me?