Arts & Entertainment
Chronicler of the World, Troubadour of the Soul
James McMichael, one of the nation's preeminent poets, is seated at the kitchen table of his pinky-beige suburban condo talking about being a single parent raising a teenage son.
He is framed, not by volumes of Walt Whitman or William Blake, but by a wallpaper border of achingly cheerful sunflowers. The surroundings are more about decor than food.
McMichael confesses sadly that he isn't much of a cook. He and his son never eat together. They never talk. His son prefers the company of his friends and the atmosphere at Del Taco. Then there's McMichael's girlfriend. Well, his former girlfriend. She's packing up her clothes, some of the plants and rattan furniture, and moving out on Friday.
A World of Hope and Vision
He's back. The hair has softened from a sharper spike to dandelion fuzz, the African dashiki traded for a sports shirt, the amazed laugh has become sweeter--and a little sadder.
Peter Sellars, the 35-year-old artistic director of the Los Angeles Festival and Whiz Kid of Culture, is growing up. As he gazes out of an eighth floor window from the festival's new digs in a high-rise on Wilshire Boulevard, he spots invisible trouble.
"There is so much unprocessed frustration and rage in L.A. now," he declares. "Everyone is on edge. There are For Sale signs everywhere. Everyone is moving out. But if you take international relations even remotely seriously, you know that if it can't work in L.A. it can't work anywhere. There is nowhere else to go. This is it."
The Beat Goes On
Allen Ginsberg's voice crackles with fire and fun. He's talking about the qualities he most admires in some of the young artists he knows.
“People who are innovative, sensitive, courageous, not afraid of gay acquaintances, manly but not macho, meditative and literate and interested in experiencing their own consciousness rather than being restrictive and safe. Adventurous.''
They aren't adjectives he'd necessarily lavish on himself. "No, I'm not courageous," says the consummate rebel, the founder of the Beat Generation and the country's best-known living poet. "I'm just a nice Jewish boy who stays out of trouble."
Yep. Just as Dan Quayle plays bongos and smokes weed.
Music, Maestro, Please
With quiet power and passion, JoAnn Falletta stood before the orchestra, raised a baton, embraced the sound and fell in love. Her suitor was the Long Beach Symphony. Now it was her turn to return the kiss, and she did so gracefully and willingly.
It was April 8, 1989, and the 35-year-old conductor was in town to audition for the job of music director, one of five candidates invited to perform a tryout concert.
"She was obviously superior," recalls viola player Laura McCrary. "She conducted the pants off everyone else."
She Writes with Humor, Kindness and Honesty
Taken out of context, award-winning novelist Carolyn See's ravings about some of the people in her life may sound nasty.
On her mother: "She is dreadful. Intractable. Malice personified. She is the demon of my life."
On her second husband: "All I have to do is think about him and I get mad all over. He dumped me for a secretary, although he insisted on calling her an editorial assistant. So I've used him in my books like a bar of soap--over and over and over. I still think, "You --- ----! How could you have left me!'"
She is amused by her own faux rage. Carolyn See is not an angry person.
The Arts of Apsara
The barefoot grandfather sits at his loom as though at prayer. He's entered a rhythmic world of wooden pedals and webs of thread, a magical sanctuary where vivid colors and rich silks are born out of his own hands.
They are the same powerful hands that harvested rice and built cow wagons in Cambodia during the late '70s. And they are the same powerful hands that carried his wife and daughter to their graves.
Like thousands of other victims of the genocidal Pol Pot regime, the two starved to death.
Back for Another Curtain Call
Bill Bushnell does not look like a man whose professional life collapsed and died, spectacularly and publicly, a few months ago. A smile travels over the lived-in face as he recalls the evening of Oct. 13, the night the final curtain fell on the bankrupt Los Angeles Theater Center.
"I began to fill with rage," he recalls. "It took me 30 minutes to dump the feeling. There was a time I would have wallowed in it. But I've learned to release negative energy. Nothing lasts forever. Personally, I feel like a 7-million-ton elephant just got off my ear."
The Heart of Dixie
Dixie Carter slides out of a black Jaguar with feline grace.
As befits one of the stars of television's "Designing Women," she is wearing designer clothes--from big red sunglasses to high red heels.
She's come to town to play a leading role in the Long Beach Civic Light Opera's production of "Pal Joey," which opens at the Terrace Theater Saturday night. She glides into the company's administrative offices clutching a small handbag and a plastic bottle of designer water.
"Excuse me," she says sweetly as she sits down and takes off her glasses. "Sometimes I forget to take them off. It's so rude to keep them on."
An Actor at the Height of Fashion
Richard E. Grant is so tired his eyes feel like bleached oysters.
For the past week, he has been fielding questions about ''Ready to Wear,'' Robert Altman's outrageous mockumentary about the frenzied, avaricious world of fashion. The night before, he and other cast members let down their hem lines with fashion industry royalty at a fabulous Neiman Marcus fete.
It's been like that all week: Soirees. Interviews. Flash bulbs. Mega lenses. Ironically, the intensity of the post-movie promotion madness has been much like the movie itself. ''The media is like a Godzilla movie. It gobbles people up and spits them out,'' says Grant.