Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
The grounds of Cal State Fullerton are like a little gallery, with more than 30 sculptures, plus fresh air and sunshine to make it all that much sweeter. A brief guide to our 10 favorites:
1) Fallen David is a copy of Michelangelo's white marble statue that was shattered by the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake. The accidental artwork is located north of the Education Classroom Building.
2) Arise by Eric Goulder features a bronze figure either dragging itself up from a concrete block or fucking it. We appreciate the ambiguity. Check it out for yourself at the south entrance to the Visual Arts Center, building D.
3 & 4) Tombstones are always cool. Dean McNeil sculpted two out of granite, and they say awesome stuff, but we aren't going to spoil that here.
5) Look carefully, or you'll miss Lloyd Hamrol's adobe Redoubling Wall Path on the north side of the Visual Arts Center. It has been degrading since it was installed in 1976 and looks like a pile of dirt, but it was built with a grant from the NEA, so see it and piss off a Republican.
6) To the east of the Visual Arts Center's building E is Nautilus, Rico Eastman's rusting steel sculpture of an armadillo or an armadillidiidae or a lobster tail or . . . hell, something. We don't know what it is; we just know we like it.
7) In the atrium between McCarthy Hall and the Science Laboratory Center, Eugene Sturman's Thermalo Vortex qualifies as the weirdest name.
8, 9 & 10) Ray Hein's Water Wall at the east entrance of the Visual Arts Center looks like metal wallpaper buckling in the middle from water damage. Wall Gazing Gallery in the center's central courtyard is also funded by the NEA. Also in the courtyard is Betty Gold's sexy redwood-and-steel untitled piece. It gets our vote for the dirtiest sculpture in public view.
We heard that electronic experimentalists Do LaB started putting on Lightning In a Bottle because they didn't want to be twiddling their thumbs between Coachella and Burning Man every year. The three-night, four-day festival at Oak Canyon Ranch features DJs, bands, installation art, spiritual talks, yoga and organic food, ensuring a lot of Hula-Hooping, fire-dancing and brain-wobbling from attendees. Bringing a crunchy-granola vibe to antiseptic Orange County is a feat in itself (be prepared for poi spinning and worm-composting classes), but it's so family-friendly that circus performers and freaks on stilts commingle with 5-year-olds racing toy boats on the lake. The sun floats down in dazzling shades of orange, pink and blue over Irvine Lake every day, giving way to the festival's neon lights, four-on-the-floor house beats, and performances from such big-name acts as Booka Shade and the Album Leaf. Transcendent.
The Hootenanny serves as not only an annual rockabilly festival, but also a retro fashion show. Though respect must be paid to those talented gentlemen who pull off gravity-defying pompadours, the main attraction is the women. They need not bare all to turn heads, as they parade in lavish updos, vintage-cut dresses and stilettos. No hair is out of place, and their makeup is always flawless despite early-July temperatures that reach toward the triple digits. Some girls look to the likes of Bettie Page, Mae West and Dita Von Teese for inspiration. Others take Old Hollywood glamour or 1950s-housewife style and fuse it with punk and tattoo culture. The result is modern homage to midcentury styles at the largest local rockabilly event.
Good God, this album rocks. From beginning to end, listening to this 11-song set generates the same apoplectic anxiety and guilty fun you experienced as a 15-year-old sneaking out in the middle of the night to ride on the back of your boyfriend's motorcycle and drink beers in abandoned warehouses. Consider the anthemic swagger of "Jules' Story," or the exultant, heart-stopping breaks of "Always Afraid." Crystal Antler's sophomore release uses the requisite five-man-band instruments to display a sophisticated take on arrythmic beats, shrieking vocals and shredding, rollercoaster-y, feedbacking guitars. And somehow (especially on songs such as "Fortune Telling"), the overall set conveys a sinister, sexy mood that makes you greedy for song after song after song, until you've listened to the album 20 times on repeat without noticing.
"Rock band" may be a bit generic a descriptor for this quartet, whose sound righteously struts the battlements of metal, rock and indie. But the "best" part is apt. Winners of the award for Best New Artist at this year's Orange County Music Awards, Railroad to Alaska bring to the stage an invigorating blend of visceral energy and inventive artistry. While banging their heads behind sprawling waves of cascading hair, guitarists Justin Suitor and Jeff Lyman pluck out a nimble interplay of classic-rock-era riffage in the vein of AC/DC mixed with psychedelic, reverb-laden ambiance. While their songs sound great on an iPod, their live shows are the main event: Witness Suitor abandoning the stage to howl amongst the metal monkeys in the pit. Interesting side note: Suitor demonstrates his range of talent and lends his songwriting services to local pop band Honeypie.
The Cosmonauts are punk as fuck, just not in the sped-up-and-spit-out-lyrics-to-three-chord-guitar-songs way. No, they're punk as fuck in that careless, who-gives-a-shit, it's-all-about-honest-to-goodness-rock-&-roll way. Just don't equate that with sloppiness. Their songs have garbled vocals, spun-around choruses and distorted, spacey guitar drones, but they're deliciously hook-heavy and incredibly danceable. Watching the band live, prepare to sweat your socks off.