Two Hander for the Ages: Freud’s Last Session at the Odyssey

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Through March 4th at the Odyssey Theatre, Mark St. Germain’s two- character play, Freud’s Last Session sets two iconic figures side by side. And once so positioned, they debate, spar, agree, disagree, and passionately digress in a strong acting tour de force.

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Martin Rayner as Sigmund Freud and Martyn Stanbridge as C.S. Lewis both convey their characters needs, wants, desires, and beliefs, bringing to life a profound 90 minutes of dialog that takes place on the day that England enters World War II.

Set in Freud’s convivial study, Lewis is a guest, invited to debate the existence of God with Freud. Just who has the more twisty and tenacious psychological profile, or the more defiant view of life, death, and war is the shifting point of the dialogue.

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Rayner’s Freud is charming and witty, and a touch explosive. But then who wouldn’t be, contemplating suicide as a way to escape the ravages of oral cancer. Stanbridge’s Lewis is more even keel, but falls into a rhythm of sparring with Freud, enjoying the music of language as much as the arguments themselves may frustrate him.

The central crux of their disagreements arise around Lewis’ recent conversion to the Anglican faith, while Freud, as the father of psychoanalysis, is adamant that such a conversion is foolishness and blissfully unaware of his own psychological foibles. The debate is interrupted by radio announcements and music, the threat of German bombs, an off-stage barking dog, and the death-rattle coughs of Freud.

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Mostly they talk, and under lesser hands the dialogue might lag. With Rayner and Stanbridge, however, there is so much life and vibrance to the performances – they simply embody their characters and make them into people we want to meet and get to know – that we’re compelled to listen and keep doing so.

Tense and insightful, no matters debated here are resolved neatly; rather the human condition, and a very human stubborn adherence to ones beliefs, are the meaty heart of this two-man play.

The Odyssey is located at 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. For more information visit www.odysseytheatre.com or call (310) 477-2055 

The Art of Attire

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Fashion is in many cases considered a form of art. When an art lover purchases an art work, they’re collecting something they love. When fashionistas purchase clothing, well, maybe they’re just shopping – but a cogent argument can be made that they’re collecting, too. Whether they’re collecting a favorite brand or an iconic look, from designer couture to hand-painted linens,  what we wear represents the art of fashion and more personally, the art of ourselves.

Museums often hold halls of fashion, clothing that has historical or celebratory value, whether we’re looking at presidential inaugural outfits from the 19th Century, Mondrian print scarves, or what Lady Gaga wore to the Grammys. Originality, fine craftsmanship, beautiful materials all play a part in what makes attire art. And of course, personal taste.

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With all that in mind – how a garment is made, what it’s made with, and an original approach, here in Southern California, the art of attire tends to focus on designer outfits at red carpet events — and there are plenty of those — and beach wear.

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Award ceremonies aside, there are a lot of us taking a walk along the sand, catching a wave, or just hanging out with a glimpse of blue sea always in view. And we still want our own personal, wearable style – the art of us.

This has led to a wide range of clothing for both sexes, from bathing suits to sun hats to cover-ups that cross over into evening wear, patterned beach bags that double as briefcases or overnight bags, and for guys, the relaxed vibe of the beach in shorts, shirts, and board shorts that are cool enough to leave the sand.

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Sure, there are mass market retailers that offer takes on beach fashion, but not only may quality be sub-par, let’s face it, purchasing anything off a rack in a chain store is – to use the art analogy again – not dissimilar to bringing home a print of the Mona Lisa and assuming it’s just as good as the real thing.

We recently met the owner of the Old Bull Lee brand of shorts, shirts, and board shorts, Lee Johnson, who more than agrees. Old Bull Lee is more or less the epitome of a clothing brand that represents the art of beach living. It’s a conscious choice, to make terrifically wearable clothes that more or less define a lifestyle. Johnson says his company doesn’t just make shorts – “We live and craft them.  We pride ourselves on making the finest quality. We pay attention to every detail,” he says.

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Culling fabrics from France and Italy, making his clothing in California where the company is located,  Old Bull Lee also defines itself with bold color patterns, precise keyhole buttonholes, and sophisticated styling.

Some patterned street short designs are printed in France by a 150-year-old company that uses Persan WAT roller printing to provide a soft and layered depth and great color performance. The material is lightweight, with a tight weave and substantial feel. Solid color shorts may utilize superior Japanese-made Duck-weight cotton,  with vibrant color that’s over-dyed or direct-dyed to prevent fading.

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And when it comes to Old Bull Lee board shorts, the design is just as meticulous, and the artful palette just as engaging.  There’s the vivid psychedelic undersea blue pattern in the company’s El Porto design, or the rich, tapestry-like half-speed-printed floral graphic in the Montauk design, the latter from internationally renowned artist Eduardo Recife. There it is again, fashion as art.

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Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s fashion merging with art, as with the company’s 100% ring-spun cotton T-shirt that sports a hip apple green logo screen printed on the front in water-based ink. From casual shirts to button-downs crafted with Italian fabric and mother of pearl buttons, the art of beach style is epitomized by Old Bull Lee.

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Johnson of course notes the comfort of his clothing, the softness, durability, and fit – but in the end it all comes down to artistic design and fabric; to defining and representing the art of beach living, from Cape Cod to Santa Monica Bay, from the Carolinas to the Lone Star State.

While over the years the art of attire has often come to represent royal gowns and film costumes, in a very real way and on a very relatable level, when it comes to clothing, the real art is in creating lasting and lovely attire that fits the lives that people lead. And allows them to live their dreams.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Old Bull Lee

Carolee Rainey Tells Listeners to Feel Fearless.

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With powerful melody and strong, anthemic voice, Carolee Rainey’s Feel Fearless EP offers a positive and life-affirming message. Exuberant and joyful, Rainey gives folk rock a jubilant spin.

 

Evoking comparisons with Stevie Nicks and Ricki Lee Jones, Rainey is nothing if not uplifting. The songs on her potent debut mini-album reflect inspirational and empowering messages lyrically, while the music is solid, strongly singable, and will delightfully lodge in listeners internal musical repertoire for a long time.

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Philosophically, Rainey says she views life as a journey – “get on the train and ride with me…got a lot of room for my new audience…you on board?” She asks that listeners tune in to her songs because “they’ve got life, wisdom and lightness even if they can get rather lonely and dark. What can you do? We all live in our private villages.”

All the same, Rainey, who has worked as a visual artist as well as a singer-songwriter and exhilarating performer, knows how to connect her audience and with it. Take in the gypsy-like joy in “Mystic Rose,” or the spiritual bliss in “Listen to the River,” and any personal inclination toward isolation will dissolve in the infectious pleasure that Rainey clearly takes in her work. The latter tune, inspired by a location in Big Sur, Calif. that has captivated the artist, has a definite LA-vibe. The now East Coast-based musician says “My heart may be in winter, but my soul is in the sun,” a sentiment that comes through vibrantly in this cut. Her song “Feel” is equally emotional, cutting to the quick of both loss and joy.
The mini-album’s first single, “Deal with the Devil” is the most rock-like tune; but the over-riding theme of the record is simply to create work that is both positive and thoughtful while being musically fun.
Tight backing musicians create compulsively listenable support to Rainey, including Doug Yowell, Richard Hammond, Thad DeBrock, and Clifford Carter on acoustic piano and keys.
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Rainey says she was inspired to cut her record while attending a Rickie Lee Jones concert. Working as a painter, she found that “virtually one day, I just didn’t have the calling to wake up and create from a blank canvas…it was a transformation that was filled with angst about what my next creative endeavor would be…” until she attended the concert. She found Jones’ performance galvanizing, and immediately began to write her own songs. “It was the next stop on the train for me,” she says.
Get on board with Rainey’s “tracks” and see where her journey takes you. The EP drops the end of April. Follow Rainey on Facebook for the latest release news. Check out her sound and look on YouTube.
– Genie Davis; photos via Carolee Rainey music

Mexican “Queens” – La Gringa Bar and Grill

 

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Like Los Angeles, New York is hardly a slouch of a city when it comes to amazing restaurants. But for Angelenos visiting the east coast, after the wealth of stellar Mexican eateries in L.A., choosing south of the border cuisine in the Big Apple can sometimes feel like the last selection on a “where to dine” list.

But surprise: during a recent east coast visit, La Gringa Bar and Grill changed our minds, about a lot of things. Not only about choosing Mexican cuisine, but about dining outside of Manhattan.

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Located in unassuming Rego Park, Queens – a short subway jaunt from the heart of NYC and adjacent to trendier Astoria, La Gringa Bar and Grill is a revelation. Introduced to the venue by a local friend, the spot afforded one delicious surprise after another: starting with an Elote appetizer. Street corn has always been a favorite, and here, it’s served with the corn already cut off the cob, with cotija cheese and Mexican crema mixed in, attractively filling a large glass rimmed with red chili powder.  Served with a wedge of lime and a sprinkling of cilantro, we could’ve had ten of these, but then we wouldn’t have been able to eat the perfectly crisp fish tacos, or the beautifully balanced poblano relleno, filled with shrimp and topped with fresh avocado. Served with black beans and well-seasoned rice,  the juicy carnitas were a hit with the carnivores in our group, as was a thick, smoky chicken mole. 

We were impressed with the stylish food presentation, the from-scratch flavors, and the fresh produce.

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Drinks from the bar were also great – with an ample selection of mezcal and tequila, and a variety of house special margaritas, there were plenty of choices worth celebrating. Dessert? We had caramel flan that was letter perfect, but better still were the round churro balls – think donut holes in style – with chocolate dipping sauce.

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The restaurant also offers catering and party room rentals.

La Gringa Bar and Grill is located at 63-354 Woodhaven in Rego Park. For more information visit www.lagringagrill.com