Friday, 18 September 2020

Arts & Life



‘PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS’ ON SHOWTIME

Los Angeles, nicknamed the City of Angels but not for the California baseball team, has a fascinating history that has been popularized over time in film noir and seminal works like “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential,” two period pieces that leap to mind.

Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” is set in 1938 Los Angeles, at a time of racial strife, rising evangelism, a public works project running roughshod over an immigrant community, and the Third Reich seeking a foothold on American soil.

As if the pre-World War II period is not intriguing enough, show creator John Logan introduces a supernatural element with Natalie Dormer’s demon Magda who busies herself stirring up tension and turmoil that percolates throughout Los Angeles.

Dressed in black, Magda makes her first appearance in a prologue by appearing in fields where migrant workers toil on harvesting crops, causing a tragic fire that claims the lives of many, including the father of a young boy who witnesses the carnage.

A counter-balance to the evil Magda, who also inhabits the human roles of a German immigrant housewife, a political aide and a leader in the Pachuco counter culture, is Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo), the Mexican folk saint associated with delivering the dead to the afterlife.

Fast forward to 1938, the young boy in the fields is now the adult Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto), who lives with his mother Maria (Adriana Barraza) and his siblings in the Latino community of Belvedere Heights, soon to be the flashpoint for a battle over urban renewal.

A reluctant trailblazer, Tiago becomes the first Mexican-American detective at the LAPD where he’s in conflict with fellow racist officers as much as he is with his own community that views him as some sort of sellout.

No one else wants to partner with Tiago other than veteran detective Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane), a Jew who has his own struggle with the rising tide of anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head in the presence of Nazi sympathizers openly holding rallies in public parks.

The first case for Tiago and Lewis is a crime scene in the cement basin of the Los Angeles River, where a family of four from wealthy Beverly Hills is found dead, their bodies heavily mutilated with a Day of the Dead motif.

Nearby on the channel wall, the detectives find an ominous message in Spanish that translates to “You take our heart, we take yours.” Indeed, the corpses have had their hearts removed in a ritualistic fashion that forebodes a looming racial skirmish.

Los Angeles City Councilman Charlton Townsend (Michael Gladis) is pushing his weight around in a committee meeting to thrust the development of the Arroyo Seco freeway that will run right through the middle of Belvedere Heights, displacing scores of its inhabitants.

The residents show up in force at a council hearing and Tiago’s brother Raul (Adam Rodriguez) is in the forefront of fierce opposition to the freeway, presaging the inevitable unease that will cause a huge rift in the Vega household.

The shape-shifting Magda appears as the compliant Alex, a dowdy advisor to Councilman Townsend who manipulates her boss into compromising positions which seem almost certain at some point to further the aims of local Nazis to gain influence at City Hall.

Townsend’s unwavering commitment to the freeway, even in the face of a threat from a veteran councilwoman for a pitched political battle, eventually leads to a violent confrontation at the roadway’s construction site, leading to the death of cops and civilian protestors.

Of course, the unseen hand of Magda is behind the violence, as her only aim is to sow chaos and foment distrust between the whites and immigrants, which might open up a receptive audience for the Third Reich’s inroads into local government.

While Lewis starts working solo to investigate the murder of Jewish friends who had been spying on the Nazis, Tiago gets involved with radio evangelist Sister Molly (Kerry Bishe), an alluring temptress who chafes at the control exercised by her mother (Amy Madigan).

Another character for the devious Magda is that of young German-born housewife Elsa who frequently visits the office of pediatrician Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear), another expatriate with a troubled marriage to the alcoholic Linda (Piper Perabo).

Not concealing his affinity for Nazi Germany, Dr. Craft is the leader of the German-American Bund, a group that seeks to exploit the isolationist views of a public wary of entanglement in another costly war on foreign soil.

“City of Angels” may suffer from too many storylines, though each one holds its own fascination for the fate of every character even as the chameleon-like Magda juggles so much conniving guiles that are irresistible.

A key facet to this limited series is the aesthetic rendering of Los Angeles of the late Thirties that is amazing in its authentic details. For the atmosphere alone, “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” draws one into an experience that is worth watching.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

Deirdre O’Connor is the director of The Writing Center at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and the following poem is from her new collection from Able Muse Press, “The Cupped Field.”

I’m sticking my neck out here, but I suspect this is the first poem in human history to picture a group of children making a practice visit to a dentist. And such a touching picture it is!

At the Dentist's

“Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it,” reads the needlepoint
above the dentist’s door, beyond which “Little Learners”
are doing time in the chair. One at a time, up and down,
they practice how to be not afraid, to tip their chins,
spit. And then to brush in circles gently
for two minutes. No blood today, no needles, drills,
just a plastic sack of gifts: a magnet of a happy tooth,
a purple toothbrush, paste. In the waiting room,
their winter coats are stacked: smooth, inflatable animals,
an occasional Pittsburgh Steelers in the mix.
The youngest ones need help getting their arms in,
getting zipped, and when they’re all lined up and holding
hands in pairs, they lift their faces as if toward God
to the camera. Having been happily trained for pain,
they flash their unharmed smiles, and in my mind, I exit
with them, all my ex-selves, mittens attached
to their jackets, bright and unbreakable.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Deirdre O’Connor, "At the Dentist’s," published under the title “The Yoke,” from The Cupped Field, (Able Muse Press, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Deirdre O’Connor and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.



NORTH COAST, Calif. – Dance! Dance! Dance! Film!

Mendocino College choreography students turned the shelter in place order into an opportunity to create dance on film.

With the Mendocino College Spring Dance Festival 2020 canceled, the nine student choreographers decided to transfer their new choreographic works to film for the first virtual Mendocino College Spring Dance on Film Festival.

Eryn Schon-Brunner, dance instructor and producer of the dance performances at Mendocino College, said she is “delighted by the creativity that has emerged from the challenges that social distancing policies have imposed on the dancers. The students’ fearless flexibility and willingness to explore a new choreographic modality has produced exciting and fresh new dances (on film).”

As of May 8, new works by choreographers Clara Carstensen, Yves Charles, Margarita Diaz, Traci Hunt, Kai Krasts, Paloma Rodriguez Irizarry, Hannah Nicole, Jonah O’Conner, and Megan Youell can be virtually viewed at https://www.mendocino.edu/dance .

In “LIMIT(LESS),” by Paloma Rodriguez Irizarry, explores and penetrates the invisible barriers that we face. Her work challenges how the body perceives, interacts, and transforms these realities into movement.

“LIMIT(LESS) is a creative response to the cancellation of the Mendocino College Spring Dance festival 2020, where I was going to present a different work, called ‘Death Flesh,’” said Irizarry.

The Mendocino College Dance on Film Festival is just one section of the virtual artwork that can be viewed in the Spring Student Art Show Virtual Art Gallery.

Thanks to ceramics instructor Doug Browe and graphic designer Tony Novelli, who coordinated this virtual show, many different Mendocino College art forms will be shared, such as paintings and drawings, ceramics, culinary arts, theater, music, and creative writings.

“The Other” by Traci Hunt is an “exploration of similarity and likeness in humans; a search to find out what we hold at our core that connects us all.”

Traci Hunt elaborated, “This piece came about organically, and the shift to video definitely changed the course of the piece and its theme. Nevertheless, the evolution of the piece was fun to watch, and moving it to a video format allowed me as a choreographer to push the boundaries of what can be said through movement with the theme of likeness in mind.”

Traditionally, Dance Club scholarships are given out at the Spring Dance Festival, when the hard work and artistry of the dancers is publicly acknowledged.

A huge congratulations goes out to Clara Carstensen, who will receive the Inspiring Dancers Scholarship, and to Megan Youell, who will receive the Kayla Grace Chesser Dance Scholarship.

Both Mendocino College Repertory Dance Co. dancers have excelled in their art by inspiring those around them and generously sharing their art form through performance and choreographing.

Don't miss out on the wide variety of virtual art that Mendocino college has to offer. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

LAKE AND MENDOCINO COUNTIES, Calif. – The deadline to be considered for performing in the MendoLake MusicFest is this Friday, May 15.

The MendoLake MusicFest has a few more slots available. The festival is a celebration of the local performing artists that contribute to the rich cultural community in Lake & Mendocino counties.

From school music programs to our touring professionals, live music is the glue that holds us together.

MendoLake MusicFest is hosting a free, live-streamed concert, featuring and celebrating local musicians and performers on Sunday, May 24.

Organizers are asking for video submissions of some of your best work – recorded from a previous live performance or something recorded virtually – to share with the community.

The goal is to produce an hour to an hour and a half event, showcasing musicians from all age groups and genres of music.

Please include the following when you email your submission:

– Performer/group/band name;
– Song selection;
– Video of a previously recorded performance or a virtually compiled performance created while maintaining social distancing practices. (Video should be in landscape mode.)
– Name(s) of the performer(s).
– A short biography on your band / what you want the audience to know (about the band or the song).
– Contact information.

Email your submission information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

If you or someone you know has a song to sing, share your melody with Mendocino County for this year’s Mendo Musicfest.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the event organizers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



‘HUNTERS’ ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

A dark chapter in modern history, the Holocaust is a grim reminder of the unspeakable horror of the forced labor, torture and mass killings imposed on the Jewish people in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Survivors of the Nazi genocide are a dwindling number these days 75 years after the liberation of the death camps, with Auschwitz probably the most notorious one.

“Hunters” may serve, in an uncomfortable way, as a reminder of the Nazi regime’s cruel barbarism.

During the winter television press tour, show creator and executive producer David Weil reported that his grandmother was a Holocaust survivor whose stories about her time during the war “felt like the stuff of comic books and superheroes.”

For the memories of a then-impressionable 6-year-old, Weil may have formulated in his mind that donning a vigilante cap to fight antisemitism was a good premise for a group of Nazi hunters in 1977 to root out war criminals in our midst.

The premise of “Hunters” rests on the notion of a vengeance fantasy where philanthropist Holocaust survivor Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) recruits and leads a diverse group of hunters based in New York City to pursue war criminals.

In the first episode, teenager Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman) deals drugs in Brooklyn to support his grandmother Ruth (Jeannie Berlin), who ends up brutally murdered. It turns out that Meyer and Ruth were together at Auschwitz.

The Holocaust history is news to Jonah and he longs for revenge, but Meyer is initially reluctant to recruit the young math whiz into the group until Jonah proves his value as a code-breaker.

The show’s most jarring note is the introduction of Dylan Baker’s role of creepy Biff Simpson, an undersecretary of state who turns out to be a high-level Nazi.

This revelation strains credulity in the obvious sense that one would expect a person appointed to an important federal post would have been vetted in a serious background check.

Interesting sidekicks in the hunter group include Josh Radnor’s Lonny Flash, a master of disguises with a sly sense of humor and Kate Mulvany’s Sister Harriet, a former MI6 operative dressed as a nun.

Another standout is Jerrika Hinton’s Millie Morris, an African-American FBI agent who stumbles onto the Fourth Reich conspiracy.

“Hunters” is so often unnerving that it has caused me to wonder at the halfway point of ten episodes whether to hang in to the end. Curiosity may get the better of me.

‘CHICAGO P.D.’ REVISITED ON NBC

During this time of the seemingly eternal lockdown, is there a chance we will run out of programming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to fill the void of entertainment that may not be enjoyed in public venues?

While Netflix and Amazon appear primed to take care of our immediate needs for diversions, there is a world beyond the streaming services. Let’s take a look at what network television may have to offer.

You can count on producer Dick Wolf for successful network runs of must-see television. One that has no end in sight is the popular “Chicago” franchise series that began with “Chicago Fire.”

The original series that focused on firefighters in the Windy City and Jason Beghe’s Hank Voight, suspected of being a dirty cop, was a recurring character involved in a feud with a fire station lieutenant.

Launched as a spinoff, “Chicago P.D.” turned Sergeant Voight into the central character running the Intelligence Unit to deal with major offenses such as high-profile murders, drug trafficking, organized crime and other sensational crimes.

The tough-talking Voight can be as ruthless in enforcement as he is caring for the vulnerable. He always seems willing to make an extra effort to help young kids break free of criminal gangs.

Now in its seventh season, “Chicago P.D.” maintains consistency with Voight’s character willingness to bend the rules and ignore the admonitions of the brass often worried about an outfit that many want disbanded.

Voight and his mainstays, Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), Officers Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger, Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) and Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati), and Desk Sgt. Trudy Platt (Amy Morton), have been around since day one.

Other characters come and go over the years. Sophia Bush’s Erin Lindsay was one that Voight took under his wing and who then joined the force, and later in the series decided to join the FBI, much to the disappointment of her mentor.

The gravel-voiced Voight remains consistent in his tough-guy routine with operating techniques one would think that put him in the crosshairs of Internal Affairs with the frequency of daily meals.

The rough-and-tumble of policing by Voight and his team is unlikely to change. If Voight has a catchphrase, it’s most prone to be “Do what you gotta do.” As “Chicago P.D.” was recently extended for another three seasons, chances are that Voight’s maxim hangs around too.

“Chicago P.D.” continues to be a durable police procedural that fans of the genre will tend to enjoy for the mix of action and personal drama.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

NORTH COAST, Calif. – Organizers of the event are thrilled to announce that after a week of relishing in the dozens of musical submissions, they have decided to rename their festival “MendoLake MusicFest” in the spirit of inclusion and recognition of the community shared between residents of Mendocino and Lake counties.

“Ultimately, our community is made better through song, and organizers are excited to showcase the musicians of Lake County and share in the experience with its citizens,” organizers said in a Sunday announcement.

The MendoLake MusicFest is hosting a free, “live-streamed” concert event, featuring and celebrating local musicians and performers on Sunday, May 24.

They are currently seeking video submissions of some of your best work – recorded from a previous live performance or something recorded virtually – to share with the community.

Organizers will select exemplary performance footage submissions and stitch them into a cohesive performance video.

The goal is to produce an hour to an hour and a half event, showcasing musicians from all age groups and genres of music.

Please include the following when you email your submission:

– Performer/group/band name;
– Song selection;
– Video of a previously recorded performance or a virtually compiled performance created while maintaining social distancing practices;
– Name(s) of the performer(s);
– A short biography on your band / what you want the audience to know (about the band or the song);
– Contact information.

Email your submission information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Friday, May 15.

Due to the number of submissions, do not expect a receipt response for your submission. You will be notified if you are selected or if they need more information from you.

If you or someone you know has a song to sing, share your melody with Mendocino County for this year’s Mendo Musicfest.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the event organizers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Upcoming Calendar

19Sep
09.19.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
20Sep
09.20.2020 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Democratic Party virtual fundraiser 
22Sep
09.22.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
22Sep
09.22.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection
23Sep
09.23.2020 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Library hosts ‘Zoom with the Director’ 
24Sep
09.24.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection
24Sep
09.24.2020 11:30 am - 8:00 pm
Dine Out with Hospice
26Sep
09.26.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
29Sep
09.29.2020 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
29Sep
09.29.2020 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lakeport Police medication collection

Mini Calendar

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