Sunday, 01 August 2021

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

I heard Yona Har­vey say in an inter­view that this loose Shake­speare­an (“the bard”) son­net was writ­ten for her teenage daugh­ter, which makes its deep, lay­ered beau­ty a touch­ing mon­u­ment to what this moth­er knows and admires in her daughter’s unset­tling but nec­es­sary bloom­ing into selfhood.

Sonnet for A Tall Flower Blooming at Dinner
By Yona Harvey
Southern Flower, I want to quote the bard,
to serenade you, to raise a glass to you.
lone & tall you are always parched
& hungry. You wobble in strong winds, you
pull your bright hair when it rains, you
toss off the lint of dandelions, you
lean into the evening haunts
with your indifferent afro. You
were born in the old-world city, the invisible
dark girl city, the city that couldn’t hold
a candle, a straight pin a slave-owner’s sins
to you. You are the most beautiful
dark that hosts the most private sorrows
& feeds the hungriest ghosts.


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 ©2020 by Yona Harvey, “Sonnet for A Tall Flower Blooming at Dinner” from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love, (Four Ways Books 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Midnight Sun Massive. Photo by Sabrina Krause.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center invites the public to celebrate Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, this Saturday, June 19, especially as Juneteenth has just been established as a federal holiday.

The evening is packed with exciting cultural events beginning at 4:30 p.m. and continuing until 10 p.m.

For details and tickets visit www.middletownartcenter.org/sol.

Juneteenth events begin with the launch of Sounds of Liberation with Clovice Lewis hosted by Sabrina Klein at 4:30 p.m.

This is the first in a series of intimate performances and conversations with Black musicians living in Lake County about race and music.

At 6 p.m., the full Juneteenth Celebration begins with an authentic Kenyan dinner by local Chef Feswali Mulanda. Pre-purchase of dinner tickets is recommended.

At 7 p.m., Clovice Lewis will introduce us to Juneteenth, followed by a reading of poems by Langston Hughes and Lucille Clifton with Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie.

A highlight of the evening is call-and-response singing with Gloria Scott, then West African dance and drumming with Djibril Camara.

Live music and dancing with Midnight Sun Massive begins around 7:30 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m.

Food and beverages are available for purchase, the dance is free to the public. All proceeds support the Sounds of Liberation project.

Lewis is an award-winning musician, composer and educator who plays cello with the Lake County Symphony, among others. His musical, “Harlem Voices” and his Harlem Voices Training Project lay the groundwork for Sounds of Liberation’s potential for experiential and transformative learning and raising of awareness to the Black experience, racial equity and social justice.

Sabrina Klein has spent her career working in the arts to engage audiences in meaningful experiences. She moved to Lake County last spring and brings a passion for social justice, a strong belief that the arts make the world a better place, and that each person and every community have a right to the arts in their daily lives.

Chef Feswali Mulanda’s love of cooking began as an 8-year-old preparing food for his younger siblings in Kenya. Still cooking as if for family, Mulanda has been a chef at Harbin Hot Springs since 2002, preparing memorable delicious meals, including Kenyan dishes.

Singer-songwriter Gloria Scott will lead a call-and-response singing. Scott is best known for her work during the 1960s and 1970s when she produced several hit singles with Sly Stone and had a hit album produced by Barry White. She was also an Ikette for Ike and Tina Turner, and wrote numerous hits for other musicians throughout her career. Scott currently resides in Lake County and plays and sings with a church in Lucerne.

Djibril Camara, master West African dancer, choreographer and teacher from Guinea, recently moved to the tri-counties region. He will be accompanied by dancers and drummers including Lake County musician and music educator Victor Hall who also performs with Midnight Sun Massive.

A multi-instrumental eight-piece band whose genre is an eclectic blend of reggae, ska, calypso and soul, Midnight Sun Massive will provide the evening’s dance music. Now in their third decade of making music together, the band continues to evolve, and has recently added a horn section.

Sounds of Liberation with Clovice Lewis will be livestreamed on Zoom and Facebook free to the public. Live-audience tickets have sold out.

All Sounds of Liberation events will take place in hybrid format with limited live audience seating and livestreamed. Events will be recorded by PEG TV for future education and awareness raising.

Sounds of Liberation is made possible with community support and with support from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

Register to Join the event on Zoom for the Sounds of Liberation launch with Clovice Lewis and find out more about MAC’s Juneteenth Celebration at www.middletownartcenter.org/sol.



Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

In many cul­tur­al tra­di­tions, an encounter with an owl at night is an omi­nous sign.

But here, in a poem by recent Shel­ley Memo­r­i­al Award win­ner, Arthur Sze, (first pub­lished in 1982), there is a won­der­ful trans­for­ma­tion from the pur­ple of dusk to the green of dawn that cap­tures a moment of pure opti­mism in this strange and decid­ed­ly mag­i­cal noc­tur­nal encounter between the poet and an owl.

The Owl
By Arthur Sze

The path was purple in the dusk.
I saw an owl, perched,
on a branch.

And when the owl stirred, a fine dust
fell from its wings. I was
silent then. And felt

the owl quaver. And at dawn, waking,
the path was green in the
May light.


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 ©2021 by Arthur Sze, “The Owl” from The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems, (Copper Canyon 2021). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.




‘THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD’ (RATED R)

Before “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” there was “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” and what one needs to know about the original to fathom the sequel is that Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson make for a lethal bickering odd couple and Salma Hayek is now thrown into the mix in a big way.

As a bodyguard, Reynolds’ Michael Bryce once took a bullet for Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, an unhinged, profane loudmouth and murdering hitman who fails to express any gratitude for his life being saved.

Meanwhile, as the film opens, Bryce dreams of winning the Bodyguard of the Year award, but in truth he lost his Triple-A rating during a botched job. Now he’s seeing a therapist who can’t stand him and insists he take a sabbatical in Italy if only to get him off her couch.

Poolside tranquillity is quickly disrupted for Bryce when Kincaid’s wife Sonia (Hayek), an insane con artist quick to anger and quick on the trigger, shows up with guns blazing and insists that Bryce is urgently needed to rescue her husband from Mafia kidnappers.

While leaving phone messages for his future rehabilitated self, the present day for Bryce becomes very much consumed with a host of problems that his quick wit and self-deprecating humor will fail to make any less troublesome.

The drawbacks of being engaged by the volatile Sonia include dealing with Italian mobsters and Russian gangsters, detonating briefcases, car chases, shootouts, bar brawls, explosions and even a little light torture.

For all of Bryce’s dubious past and Darius’ murderous history and prison stints, Interpol for reasons only convenient to the semblance of a plot need their services to foil a megalomaniac Greek billionaire’s plot to cripple the European Union.

Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo), a rule-breaker anxious to be reassigned back to Boston, figures his ticket out of Europe will be punched when Bryce and the Kincaids thwart tycoon Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas), a low-rent Bond villain.

Granted, there’s plenty of absurdity when the trio stir up endless pandemonium wherever they go, and then Morgan Freeman, of all people, shows up in a situation best left as a surprise.

The surfeit of elaborate stunts and violent action and chase sequences veers perilously close to a point of tedium, or maybe it’s just too much of a good thing. But it is still mindlessly entertaining and the gorgeous European scenery adds a nice touch.

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” works best with the turbulent chemistry of the trio as the result of their comic banter and bickering mixed with senseless and wanton mayhem.

‘THE HOUSEWIFE AND THE HUSTLER’ ON HULU

Real-life legal drama that involves celebrity figures can be even more interesting than fiction cooked up by masters of the genre like Steven Bochco (“L.A. Law”) or David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal”).

That looks to be the case with the nonfiction melodrama streaming on Hulu, “The Housewife and the Hustler,” the former being Erika Jayne, a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and her estranged husband and legal titan Tom Girardi.

Once considered a crusader for justice, Girardi now stands accused of embezzling from the victims he swore to protect by engaging in what is being called a Ponzi scheme of taking money from clients for his own extravagant lifestyle and paying off other clients.

The obvious problem with a Ponzi scheme is that it is a house of cards destined to eventually collapse when the flow of money from courtroom victories of settlements slow to trickle or completely evaporate.

Featuring interviews with former “Housewives” cast members Danielle Staub and Dana Wilkey, actor/comedian Heather McDonald, victims and legal experts, “The Housewife and the Hustler” follows the stream of documents and money.

The documentary probes the trail to find out who was involved, how much they knew and who will pay for the alleged crimes, just as the latest season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” gets underway with Erika Jayne under the spotlight.

A never-before-aired deposition tape of Tom Girardi, whose law license has been suspended, shows when the legal legend who said he once had tens of millions now admitted to a judge that his money was all gone.

Voices from the Los Angeles legal world bring to life a charismatic mastermind — the “wizard behind the curtain,” as one subject said — whose lavish lifestyle was flaunted to viewers of Erika’s television show.

Erika, more than three decades Girardi’s junior, is apparently in the process of divorcing her husband, probably trying to hang on to any assets she may have that would otherwise be subject to restitution for aggrieved parties.

Aside from the bounty of his mansion, fancy cars and private plane, the one interesting fact about Girardi is his big win against utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, a case that was the inspiration for the film “Erin Brockovich.”

Let’s just say that there is no more winning for this once legal superstar.

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

Clovice Lewis. Photo by Nathan Dehart.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center is launching “Sounds of Liberation” — conversations about race and music on Juneteenth, June 19.

Following the inaugural conversation and performance with musician/composer Clovice Lewis at the MAC, there will be a Juneteenth celebration including an authentic Kenyan dinner, live performances and a dance party.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. followed by performances at 7 p.m.

Performances include an introduction and welcome by Clovice Lewis, call and response singing with Gloria Scott, poetry reading by Lake County Poet Laureate Georgina Marie, West African Dance and Drumming featuring Djibril Camara and live music and dancing with the Midnight Sun Massive band (Soul, Reggae Ska Calypso).

Juneteenth — also called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day — is recognized as a holiday in 45 states, including California since 2003.

June 19 commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the US. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was declared in 1862, word did not reach Texas until June 19, 1865, hence Juneteenth.

“The Sounds of Liberation: Discovering Wisdom and History in African American Music” launches with an intimate conversation and performance with Composer/Musician Clovice Lewis at 4:30 p.m.

Throughout the series, Lake County African-American musical artists will share their stories and music in intimate settings with small participant audiences.

Seating is limited, so interested community members are encouraged to purchase tickets early.

“We aim to open doors to challenging conversations about being Black in America and building bridges among Lake County communities and neighbors,” said Lewis, who conceived of the Sounds of Liberation with MAC director Lisa Kaplan and project manager Sabrina Klein.

While Lewis is the first artist to be featured, he will be followed by Victor Hall of Midnight Sun in July, Gloria Scott in late August, and future dates with Andre Williams and Robert Watson among others.

Sounds of Liberation events will be livestreamed on Zoom (with chat participation) and on MAC’s Facebook page (@mtownartcenter).

Each Sounds of Liberation conversation will also be recorded to raise awareness and engage more people over time.

Register for Zoom participation or purchase tickets to attend live at www.Middletownartcenter.org/sol.

Dinner is served from 6 to 8 p.m. ($25 per plate) inside the MAC. The outdoor dance party is free and open to the public. No host bar on-site, alcohol will be available for purchase.

The Juneteenth dinner and dance are a fundraiser for the Sounds of Liberation project which is made possible with community support and with support from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about the Juneteenth event, and dinner menu, or to purchase tickets, visit www.middletownartcenter.org/sounds-of-liberation.




‘FRIENDS: THE REUNION’ ON HBO MAX

Running on NBC for 10 seasons and a total of 236 episodes, “Friends” gained acclaim as a sitcom about the lives of six close friends in their 20s and 30s living and working in Manhattan.

On HBO Max, the six primary cast members return after seventeen years for “Friends: The Reunion” for a real-life celebration of the beloved series and are joined by show creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

The series starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.

According to the credits, the reunion marks only the second time all of them have been together in one room since the series finale.

Moderated by late night talk show host James Corden (who incidentally really adds nothing of interest to the show by his lack of insightful questions), “Friends: The Reunion” is a nostalgia trip for the cast members.

In some respects, the reunion seems more like a nice payday for the primary cast members and those involved in the production rather than delivering incisive revelations.

But then, it’s great to see the sets on Stage 24 recreated in all their glory with the apartments and Central Perk.

While the show creators dropped a few notable morsels about casting, one of the best disclosures was how Aniston and Perry were committed to other shows that flopped so promptly as to free them up for “Friends.”

The special cuts back and forth, often with jarring effect, from vintage clips to celebrity cameos (Tom Selleck notably for his role in the May-December romance with Cox’s Monica) to an array of spontaneous recollections from the cast.

Probably most revealing of all was Perry’s remembering that he felt like he was going to die if the audience didn’t laugh, noting that he would “sweat and just go into convulsions” if there was no laughter.

More casual television viewers may not be drawn to this reminiscence of the popular series. Devoted fans who connected with “Friends” will find delight in the show clips, bloopers and cameo appearances of characters from Maggie Wheeler’s Janice to James Michael Taylor’s Gunther.

As a demonstration of “Friends” global reach, one of the more interesting aspects of “The Reunion” had to do with earnest testimonials of avid fans from countries ranging from France to Ghana to Slovakia and elsewhere.

“Friends: The Reunion,” though it may shed not enough insights on happenings behind the scenes, is obviously geared to the passionate fan base that probably realizes a similar gathering won’t happen again any time soon.

OVATION TV PREVIEW

Ovation TV, America’s only arts network, is planning a summer of “Secrets & Crimes” with film and drama series pairings every Monday night. Episodes of “Street Legal,” “The Brokenwood Mysteries” and “Mystery Road” are part of the programming block.

The episodes are planned to air following a range of widely known films, such as “The Usual Suspects,” “The Bank Job,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” (hopefully the Steve McQueen original), “Fargo,” and “Pulp Fiction,” to name a few.

A character-driven legal drama that follows the professional and private lives of a group of ambitious lawyers at a start-up firm in Toronto, “Street Legal” stars Cynthia Dale as Olivia Novak, now a named partner, who is deep into a massive class-action lawsuit.

Three tenacious young lawyers at a rival firm challenge Olivia and her usual methods. Cara Ricketts, Steve Lund and Yvonne Chapman have blind-sided Olivia by stealing her case right out from under her.

Crime apparently runs rampant in a small rural New Zealand town in “The Brokenwood Mysteries” series. Neill Rea’s Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd and partner Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) investigate the mystifying and macabre crimes that hit the town.

The first episode takes Shepherd on an investigation of the death of a local farmer found in a river, where he uncovers a family’s tragedies and secrets, and learns that Brokenwood is a place where shadows lurk just beneath the surface.

The Australian outback is the setting for the six-episode “Mystery Road” series. At the remote town of Patterson, Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson) arrives to investigate a mysterious disappearance from a cattle station, thinking he’s got an easy three-day job.

But it soon becomes clear this is not a simple case. Jay now has to work with smart, tough local cop Emma James (Judy Davis). Born to a wealthy pastoral family and proud of her pioneering history, Emma’s life is embedded in the town, but she harbors her own secrets.

For a crime series, the “Mystery Road” has the feel of a soap opera, as the investigation uncovers a past injustice that threatens the fabric of the whole community. There’s also the tension that arises even between Jay and Emma trying hard to put their differences aside.

Both “Street Legal” and “The Brokenwood Mysteries” debut in June, with the former on Tuesday, June 8, and the latter on Tuesday, June 29.

“Mystery Road” arrives late in the summer on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

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

Upcoming Calendar

3Aug
08.03.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
7Aug
08.07.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
7Aug
08.07.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Grillin’ on the Green
10Aug
08.10.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
14Aug
08.14.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
17Aug
08.17.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
21Aug
08.21.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
24Aug
08.24.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesday market
28Aug
08.28.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market

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