When I met him, I was way too shy to tell hip-hop artist Omar Offendum that his album SyrianamericanA was a staple on my running mix for years. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Omar is a Syrian American rapper and poet, who has legit Jay-Z status in the Arab American community. But to relegate his work to one community would be a disservice. He’s popular all over the world and his infectious and intellectual music speaks to anyone who’s felt marginalized or, as he puts it, “hybridized.”
Behind the Scenes
Outfest Under the Stars screenings bring some of the Ford’s most energized, fun and memorable audiences. As a queer person myself, it is affirming to see a venue I love hosting such an unabashedly out and proud crowd. From a gaggle of bearded Dorothys at a Wizard of Oz singalong to a first-look screening of the latest Ghostbusters iteration, the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival has always made the Ford’s stunning Hollywood hills setting a little more alive and a lot more sparkly.
When I last caught up with TAIKOPROJECT in 2016, they were in the midst of a collaboration with Chicano rock band Quetzal. At the time, TAIKOPROJECT’s Executive Director Bryan Yamami talked about “honoring tradition by turning it on its head.” What TAIKOPROJECT does in each performance is remind us that even an art form as ancient and culturally rooted as Japanese taiko drumming can be fiercely and unapologetically contemporary.
I meet with Arianne MacBean, the director of The Collective Memory Project, on an overcast LA morning at the Ford, where she and her company are in rehearsal. It’s unnervingly quiet here during the day, the only sound the wind through the trees, underscored by the drone of traffic from the 101.
FLAX (France Los Angeles Exchange)--On February 18, FLAX will take over the Ford to present The Dialectic of Stars - Drag Me Crazy: performances and art installations in every nook and cranny, including artist dressing rooms. In The Ford Blog, artist Robert Karimi talks about his piece: I designed Cards Against Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, Yemenis, Libyans, Afghanis, Sudanese, Chadians, North Koreans, & Venezuelans (CAISISYLASCNK&V) as an expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity (CAH) that uses the game’s system as foundation to critique President Trump’s Muslim Ban.
Bang on a Can is not a band, it’s a movement – one dedicated to the creation, proliferation and preservation of mindsets bent on unfettered musical imagination.
If there is any singer optimally suited to saluting the extraordinary Ella Fitzgerald, it is Patti Austin.
Despite an eight-hour time difference and a language barrier, I connect with Jesús Carmona, one of Spain’s most celebrated flamenco dancers, as he’s winding down his day after rehearsal, though in LA the sun is still climbing. “Es un espectáculo,” Carmona tells me, filling in a gap in my Spanish.
“We are made of star stuff – the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies.”
Astronomer Carl Sagan’s famous words echoed in my head long after my lunch with WordTheatre® founder Cedering Fox.