Enter the world of THE COLLECTOR at the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012.

Seasonally, it’s the end of Spring Fling and this week’s social scene is flirting heavily with summer.

You can relate.

You’ve carefully calibrated the movement of the marine layer.  You’ve scoped out all the al fresco dining spots within a five-mile radius.  You’ve replenished your supplies of shorts and gin.

Not necessarily in that order.

But until the season reaches full-on, embraceable beach weather, you’re willing to play indoors a little.  Or in the case of this weekend, a lot. You’re nothing if not a master of timing.

Tripping the Fringe Fantastic

If you’re the kind of drama fan who feels there’s just too little theatre in Los Angeles, it’s your lucky fortnight: the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012 is coming to the rescue Wednesday, July 13th.

Drama fans, hooray!

With 200+ productions of theatre, dance, comedy, music, cabaret, film, workshops, and events at 54 performance spaces in central Hollywood, the Fringe will be worth the wait whether your cup of theater is aliens in suburbia (D Is For Dog), the physical poetry of clowns (4 Clowns presents That Beautiful Laugh) or an edgy, not-for-kids puppet/film/animation/mixed media hybrid (The Collector, partially funded by the Jim Henson Foundation and a long way from Muppetland).

Not that you have anything against Kermit….

There are free and pay-what-you-can events, open mics, internal TV coverage, live music, and the return of the Fringe discount button and the Libation Station.

Think of them as Fringe Benefits.

HOLLYWOOD FRINGE FESTIVAL 2012Wed, June 13 – Sun, June 24 — http://www.HollywoodFringe.org

Everyone’s a star at the L.A. Film Fest 2102.

Reeling in the Year Now in its 18th year, Film Independent’s L.A. Film Festival is no longer jail bait all grown up and proving it with big deal Fest openers/closers.  On Thursday, June 14th, the  North American premiere of Woody Allen’s second romant-elogue TO ROME WITH LOVE kicks off the Fest, which closes on June 24th with the World Premiere of male-stripper-centric MAGIC MIKE, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring (former stripper) Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey.

You appreciate the authenticity Tatum will bring.

The almost 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries, include highlights such as Rashida Jones and Adam Samberg trying to fall out of love in JESSE AND CELESTE FOREVER, the never-seen, 1961 documentary BALLADS, BLUES AND BLUEGRASS from blues archivist Alan Lomax, and from Argentina, living the dream in THE LAST ELVIS.

You can SO relate.

There will be Poolside Chats (Time for the gold Speedo!), Coffee Talks (Do you know your Arabica from your Colombian?), music events, and free community screenings, including the Dirty Dancing Dance-A-Long in conjunction with Dance Camera West and 30th Anniversary screenings of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Nobody puts Baby E.T. in space, the final frontier.

L. A. FILM FESTIVALThurs, June 14 – Sun, June 24; $5 – $2500L.A Live & environs, 1005 Chick Hearn Ct, Roof of the West Parking Lot, DTLA 90015, 310.432.1240. For schedule and further info: http://www.lafilmfest.com or call 1.866.filmfest

Unzip with Paul Thomas Anderson at Rockwell Table & Stage.

Belting out Boogie NightsAdmit it, as a nightlife multi-tasker, you have a soft spot for supper clubs.  The food, the cocktails, the entertainment, the absence of multiple valets handling the Jag: it’s all just so appealing on a Friday night.

360 degree venue?  Even better.

R-rated Paul Anderson-themed show?  Sold.

For The  Record produces shows based on soundtrack-friendly filmmakers that include Baz Lurhrman, Quentin Tarantino, and John Hughes.  All good.

And then there’s the man who brought you Dirk Diggler and roller skating while naked.

Boogie Nights: The Movie Music of Paul Thomas Anderson debuts Friday, July 15th at the newly revamped space that is Rockwell: Table & Stage (formerly Vermont & Barre) and plays every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through August 4th. You won’t want to wait to book. In addition to a cast that has honed their collective chops on Broadway and the silver screen, Rockwell is presenting Anderson-themed  edibles and sippables including a ten-inch “Dirk Diggler” hot dog,  and a frank topped with “Todd Porker” mac-n-cheese as well as the “Punch Drunk Punch”.

But really,they had you at R-rated roller skating.

BOOGIE NIGHTS: THE MOVIE MUSIC OF PAUL THOMAS ANDERSONFri, June 15-Sat, Aug 4th @ 9pm$30-$35/Parental Discretion Advised  — Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N Vermont, Los Feliz, 90027 323.669.1550, ForTheRecordLive.com

The Magic Bus

No, not THAT kind of bus but pretty darn close.  The Museum of Neon Art (MONA to its friends) has closed doors at its long-time downtown location in preparation for its 2014 move to Glendale.

Lucky Glendale.

No Cruise Blues here.

And lucky you, because the Neon Cruise still cruises through Downtown L.A. and Hollywood every Saturday night starting June 16th and continuing through September 29th.  The launch spot is in Chinatown: bastion of neon glory as well as delish dish and fab art galleries and studios.  You should plan to explore prior to boarding the red double-decker bus with your host-with-the-neon-most Eric Lynxweiler.  Meet at 7:30 to get a guided tour of Chinatown’s Central Plaza before departure.

Rumor is, there’s a Buddha with neon nipples and navel.

Only in L.A.

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

Just in case the Wise Men need a little help.... (Photo courtesy of Museum of Neon Art)

It’s the countdown to Christmas and to make sure it’s fun instead of frazzled, Ms. Go Go suggests seven days of happy with plenty of  ho ho ho.

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Clare Graham's repurposed soda cans @ MorYork Gallery (Photo courtesy of MorYork Gallery)

One calls himself a tinkerer. One likes the public anonymity of his day job. One calls his creations “a manifestation of obsessive compulsive order”.  All are artists who delight in detritus and dabble in discards.   Travel around town to meet these kings of controlled chaos.

Clare Graham and MorYork Gallery:  Astonishing is the only word for Clare Graham‘s elaborate creations assembled from the artist’s collections of things small and usually overlooked.   Graham’s not-for-profit MorYork Gallery is a fixture on the NELA 2nd Saturday gallery crawl (This Saturday,  see artist Jason Manley‘s concrete sculptures).   When MorYork visitors make their way back to Graham’s cavernous studio (a former Safeway market and a roller rink), jaws drop at the expansive emporium of artful effluvia.   Chandeliers of soda pop tops and buttons drip with eerily organic form from the ceiling next to flying skeletons.  Furniture assembled from tin cans huddle beneath towering sculptures created from yardsticks and Scrabble tiles.   Graham’s collection of found objects, such as doll’s heads and tiny skulls, are displayed in glass counters  around the room, which underscores the feeling of being inside a giant Cabinet of Wonders.  Graham was a senior art director at Disneyland for years…but the Haunted House has  nothing on the MorYork.  Go to see: a genius unleashed on the everyday.

Salvaged: Aaron Kramer and the Secret Life of Objects @ the Craft and Folk Art Museum. (Photo courtesy of CAFAM)

“Trash is the failure of imagination” according to Aaron Kramer whose first solo show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum underscores his assertion with its mix of the stately (elegant gourds and soignee vases), the functional (a spunky chair constructed from corks), and the whimsical (the “Little Boy Machine”, which consists of a frame, a crank, and a darning egg with extreme personality).  The artist-inventor, who spent a year riding around the U.S. on his bicycle while making collages, describes his work as a combination of  “Fine Craft” and “extreme basket making”.  “Part-time alchemists” rejoice: on August 29, Kramer will lead a “Kinetic Kreations” workshop (one of CAFAM’s “Curiosity Sessions”).  All you need is $40 ($30 for CAFAM members), a tin can, and two wire hangers.   (Joan Crawford be damned!)  Go to see: a playful, impressively skilled artist with an inspiring message of sustainability.

Bill Concannon's "Bill's Bottle Shop" @ the Museum of Neon Art (Photo courtesy of MONA)

Recycled, Reclaimed, Reinvented: the Neon Art of Bill Concannon @ the Museum of Neon Art.

Bill Concannon, who has been teaching, speaking about, and creating neon (both as art sculpture and commercial signage) for decades, has assembled “Bill’s Bottle Shop”, a recreation of an old roadside stand, for MONA‘s Recycled, Reclaimed, Reinvented.   Concannon utilizes corrugated metal, cupid’s heads, plastic bags, and vintage glass bottles to compelling effect; the contrast of the installation’s rough materials and lush, inviting light are simultaneously seductive and unsettling.   Concannon, who consistently creates with discarded objects, says, “…for a long time, it’s tickled me that glass is at once a very precious (pound per pound) fine art medium and also a thoughtless, throw-away material: no deposit – no return.”  Go to see: a found objects master at the top of his game.

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

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Dive into WeHo's Art on the Outside! (Photo courtesy of Museum of Neon Art)

To celebrate 25 years of cityhood, West Hollywood collaborated with the Museum of Neon Art for the ultimate party decorations!

“On Route-66 Lights“, four neon signs from MONA’s vintage collection, will be unveiled in an August 5th opening ceremony by Mayor John Heliman as part of the anniversary Art on the Outside project, intended to enhance the city’s pedestrian-friendly culture (which gives the Zinke’s Shoe Repair sign a special significance….)

The Diver, La Fonda, and Zinke’s Shoe Repair neon signs can be eyed along the Santa Monica Boulevard center median near Barney’s Beanery while the Winchell’s Donut sign pops up in Plummer’s Park.  MONA’s neon cruise guide Eric Lynxwiler (dubbed “Mr. Saturday Night” in  L.A. Weekly’s “2010 People” ) has written a special Route 66 tour map for the occasion and a special WeHo/Route 66/Sunset Boulevard neon tour is in the works.  (Sign up deets below, Go Go’ers!)  You can pick up a free brochure with information on the 50+ WeHo  neon sites at MONA, WeHo City Hall, and the Plummer Park Community Center (just follow the Winchell’s Donut sign!) or check out the gorgeous Flickr slideshow on the WeHo site, which has detailed descriptions of Route 66 and WeHo-adjacent neon.

Bar flies, rockers,  dive drinkers, and other lush lifers are bound to find much of this neon very, very familiar.

Light up the night at Mexico Restaurante y Barra. (Photo courtesy of Mexico Restaurante y Barra)

Whether before or after a celebration of caged lightning, what better place to drink and dine than at Larry Nicola’s Mexico Restaurante y Barra: the eatery inspired by a neon sign (spotted by Nicola in a Mexican antique shop) and informed by the chef’s passion for south-of-the-border comida y bebida.  The famous wood-fired oven is responsible for signature dishes such as duck taquitos with mole and chile rellenos with queso Oaxaca; the 5PM – 7PM happy hour is responsible for the $4 cervezas and $5 premium margaritas.  In other words, you’ve got plenty of time to start the anniversary party early before ambling over to the grand opening.

Giving you a chance to be as lit up as the art.

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

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Original, recently restored, neon sign for Cole's French Dipped Sandwiches and Cocktails (Photo by TrujilloPaumier)

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) is one of the most unusual alternative concert spaces in Los Angeles.  The retro signs and vintage neon make it a trippy milieu even sans sound but add music and a strange alchemy often occurs; the music  affects the “noble gases” in the luminous tubes so you don’t just hear the music, you see it flicker and dance. 

The joint (and the neon) will undoubtedly be jumping on April 2nd when Michael McTaggart, recently featured in USC’s “Visions and Voices” concert, brings his  original compositions, incorporating  jazz/samba/hip hop/swing, to MONA’s First Friday Music Night.   $10 at the door not only admits you to the concert but to the Museum of Neon Art, which is running three different exhibitions including:  LIGHT GEIST, a seven-person group show;  LIGHT SPEED, featuring the winners of MONA’s April Online Photo Competition juried by Los Angeles Times photographer Mel Melcon; and SO CAL EATS, photos from Southern California Eats, John Eng and Adriene Biondo’s book of eclectic L.A. and beyond eateries. 

If the diner  photos and Brown Derby sign make you yearn for L.A.’s  gustatory glory days, stroll down Main Street to Cole’s, whose gorgeous, original neon sign was found and refurbished during the recent, $1.6 million restoration of Los Angeles’s oldest public house.  Inside, belly up to the also-original, 40-foot-long mahogany bar for just-like-Dad-drank cocktails (think Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds) or sink into the welcoming booths for hand-carved-to-order beef, pork, lamb and turkey au jus sandwiches (Cole’s and Phillippe’s both lay claim to inventing the French dip….)  with consulting chef  Neal Fraser’s updated sides ‘n sweets. (Atomic Pickle, anyone?) 

Just craving a cocktail?  Slip into the Varnish, the (usually packed) back room speakeasy at Cole’s where the dizzyingly different drink recipes come from back-in-the-day bar tomes and the bartenders, headed by master mixologist Eric Alperin, are the hardest-working crew in town. 

Michael McTaggart @ Museum of Neon Art 

Friday, April 2; Doors open at 8:00PM 

$10 

136 West 4th Street 

Los Angeles 90013 

213.489.9918 

info@neonmona.org 

  

Cole’s/the Varnish 

118 East 6th Street (6th & Main) 

Los Angeles 90014 

Cole’s – 213.622.4090 

colesfrenchdip.com 

the Varnish – 213.622.9999 

thevarnishbar.com

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….