Remembering Ms. Rivers & Happy 5775!


By Victoria Looseleaf

We lost another comedy legend when Joan Rivers, whom the New York Times called a ‘comic stiletto quick to skewer,’ suffered cardiac arrest while undergoing a routine throat endoscopy, though how any procedure could be routine on an 81-year old is a mystery to us. After being in an induced medical coma for a week, Rivers was taken off life support by orders from her daughter Melissa. The acid-tongued gal died on September 4, and we have been mourning her loss ever since.

Paired with Robin Williams’ passing, this has been a difficult time for many of us needing/craving the outrageous sense of humor those two geniuses had. Rivers shattered ceilings, be they glass, stucco or whatever, and blazed through them all like a five-alarm fire. We absolutely adored her, as did the Comedy Central Rivers’ Roasters, who used the word ‘vagina’ more times than David Mamet spewed obscenities in his 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross. We’re still kvelling over Gilbert Gottfried’s monolithic harangue.

We actually had several encounters with the Goddess of Comedy over the decades, including a life-altering event at Vegas’ MGM Grand after she performed a 1 am set, a story that is featured in our still-being-written memoirs. And though we weren’t too keen on her 2008 play at the Geffen, we were glad we got to see her so very up-close and, well, over-plasticized.

Indeed, Rivers had a face that had been stretched, plumped and rearranged to the point of making a Picasso cubist portrait look like a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover, meaning this seems a good enough transition to talk a bit about the City of Angels art scene.

Hah! There are more L.A. gallery openings in September than Pink’s has hot dogs. We made it to the grand opening of Daniel Rolnik Gallery on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, where it was wall-to-wall peeps. This young artrepreneur has been called “the world’s most adorable art critic,” by none other than Bill Clinton. How’s that for a moniker!

We also made it to the Dresden Room, where our fellow Clevelander, Ms. Jane Cantillon, regularly holds court with her Dick and Jane Family Orchestra (below).

This is art of another stripe, a combination of music, performance art, autobiographical musings (the Dick in the Orchestra is Richard Ross, Ms. C’s husband), and life in, if not exactly the fast lane, then some other kind of lane, because Janie sings it like she sees it. And wow, does she ever see it!

Cantillon and friends also showed up at another one of our Gen F readings. This was at Stories Bookstore in Echo Park, and had been organized by the in abstentia jack-of-all arts, Gordy Grundy, editor of the short story anthology that is now ranked 792,079th on amazon. Whoo hoo! What we need is the Colbert bump, sir!

Former Factory girl, Mary Woronov (right, portrait by Don Bachardy),who has written five books, been in numerous films, and whose paintings can be seen at Laemmle NoHo through December (curated by Josh Elias), also read that night. Sponsored by Artillery Magazine, and MC’d by that mag’s editor, Tulsa Kinney, the reading was well-attended, including by our colleague from CNN, Matt Carey. Anther notable: author and Artillery Mag’s publisher, Charlie Rappleye. He and Woronov were laughing so hard during our reading of The Oudist that we finally broke character and, well, cracked up, too.

A bunch of us then traipsed over to Taix, including Cantillon and Ross (not to be confused with Martini and Rossi,unless you’ve had too many), as well as the Artillery folks.

We were thrilled that Andre Miripolsky, who will be showing some of his art at our next Salon 2.0, made it to the reading, as well as producer Larry Gilbert, Mudperson Mike M. Mollett (left), and Hollywood Foreign Press correspondent (and Gen F contributor/reader), Luca Celada, among others. We stuck to Scotch that night, while Daiquiris were decidedly in high demand at this long-time haunt.

On a thespian note, we cranked out a story about AeschylusPersians for KCET Artbound, interviewing SITI Company director Anne Bogart, as well as actor Ellen Lauren. We also attended the world premiere of Marjorie Prime at the Taper, but were not overly impressed with the play’s general blandness. Lois Smith, 83, is a major presence, but this was a minor role, and playwright Jordan Harrison made a gaff when he alluded to Christo’s The Gates from February, 2005 (we were there, natch!), when describing an event that had happened decades ago to Marjorie. Still, this quasi-futuristic offering about memory really didn’t work for us, and now we’re having a hard time remembering why. Seriously, Prime felt undeveloped and underwritten.

We’re heading to San Francisco soon for more art, friends, parties and culture, after which we return to do a story on the fantastic Garth Fagan Dance (Fagan, btw, choreographed The Lion King, the world’s most successful entertainment in any medium). We wrote the last LAT feature on this troupe 10 years ago and are thrilled that they’re finally returning, Oct. 3-5, when they’ll be at the Nate Holden Center for the Performing Arts. We’re back from the city and here’s our LAT story on Fagan, a real inspiration. We’ll also be covering the concert for FJORD Review. In the interim,  check out our LAT Fall Dance Preview for more terpsichorean listings, although our picks seem to have been slashed in the edit room by Freddy Krueger. To that end, please note the following upcoming dance concerts: Danielle Agami’s ate9 Company at the Moss Theatre Oct. 11-12.

And before that, Los Angeles Ballet begins a run of its Swan Lake (in early October), which we  reviewed for the LAT in 2012 (left, Matthew Bourne‘s Swan Lake), and the Australian Ballet will do its version of the avian tale with a live orchestra at the Music Center Oct. 9-12.

We’re also working on a profile of visual artist and co-Salon host/producer, Linda Kunik, so please stay tuned. In the interim, L’shana tovah.’ Happy new year. It’s 5775. After all these years, we think this calls for a drink!


About Victoria Looseleaf

Victoria Looseleaf is an award winning arts journalist and regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, KUSC-FM radio, Dance Magazine, Performances Magazine and other outlets. She roams the world covering dance, music, theater, film, food and architecture. Have pen - and iPad - will travel! Her latest book, "Isn't It Rich? A Novella In Verse" is now available on Amazon. Thank you for reading! Cheers...
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