Archive for January, 2012

Using Tweets to Help Recruit New Arts Students

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Emily tweeted Michael Jackson's son about attending Idyllwild Arts

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The faculty and staff aren’t the only ones who are helping recruit new students to Idyllwild Arts this year.

One enterprising theatre student recently targeted a Celebrity “A” List’s kid all on her own.

She tweeted Michael Jackson’s son, Prince, age 14, about enrolling in the Moving Pictures Department at Idyllwild Arts.

“Basically, I told him that he should look into the school, if he still likes film,” said Emily, 17.

Three days ago (Jan. 26), Prince and his two siblings, were in the news. They used their dad’s shoes and gloves and their own hands to make imprints in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Emily couldn’t remember how exactly she got Prince’s email address, or how she learned that he was interested in studying film. She just wanted him to get the same great experience that she had over the past three years.

Celebrities’ kids are not uncommon at Idyllwild Arts. More recently, Actor Cheech (of ‘Cheech & Chong fame) Marin’s daughter was a visual artist; The daughter of Ed Catmull (from Disney and Pixar Animation) was a film student; and the son of Dennis Haysbert (‘The Unit’ and Allstate spokesman) was an actor. Michael Jackson’s son would be in good company.

The King of Pop's son is interested in studying film, not music. Illustration by Marcia E. Gawecki.

Prince tweeted Emily back, saying that he would consider coming to Idyllwild Arts his sophomore year. He’s currently a freshman at a day school in Calabasas.

That was the end of the tweet exchange, but maybe not the end of the story.

If Prince ends up going to Idyllwild Arts, maybe Emily should get a commission or at least a hearty thanks for starting it all with a sincere tweet. More than likely, the two will never meet.

As one of the 70+ graduating seniors, Emily is focusing on college. She just auditioned at Pepperdine University, and is looking forward to group auditions with her theatre classmates in Chicago next week.

For more information on Idyllwild Arts Academy, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 29, 2012 @ 0:17

 

 

‘The Shape of Things’ Twists The Truth About Art

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Edgy show poster

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The student reviews were out after Thursday night’s performance. “The Shape of Things,” a play by Neil LaBute and performed by the Idyllwild Arts Theatre Department, was a hit.

“Fast-paced,” “Edgy with good music” and “Everyone was good,” were some of their comments. Yet, the bloodstained poster with a scapel and a bare backed guy made this Midwesterner nervous.

There were big changes for this play. Could only four actors, with minimal staging and props, command our attention for two hours? And, this was to be held “in the round” at Rush Hall on campus, a departure from our comfy IAF Theatre.

“There’s no bad seat in the house,” exclaimed Elias, who had already seen it twice, including the Understudy’s Show on Saturday afternoon (Starring Omid as Adam, Alexandra as Evelyn, Daniel as Phillip and Samantha as Jenny).

“They took out all of the sex scenes because we’re teenagers,” explained Arthur. “but there’s still some suggestive language.”

“You have to sit in the front row,” suggested Cynthia, a vocal music major. “Then you’re at arm’s reach of the stage. The actor’s like it because then they’re ‘one’ with the audience.”

Walking into Rush Hall for the final performance on Sunday, Jan. 24 was like walking into a New York Dance Club. The curtains were drawn, the walls were all black, and the floor was silver painted “in the round.”  A bright light shone from above center stage, while human “guards,” dressed in black, stood around it. As promised, seating was ample on all sides. I sat in front–just beyond arm’s reach of the stage.

The music was edgy and loud. The darkness, noise, and unfamiliarity were all intentional. No fairytale ending for this show, but I wanted to get out unscathed (which I did), but not emotionally.

For this was a modern tale about power, deceit, lust and tyranny–all for the sake of art. It certainly was a topical subject for an art’s boarding school because nearly everyone in the audience was an artist. Could we all stand a closer look at ourselves?

Yet, this show, according to director Howard Shangraw in the playbill, “presents an intense and shocking look into art and the artlessness of people. ‘The Shape of Things’ provokes us, disturbs us and may even seduce us. It is all subjective.”

The darkness, noise and chaos was intentional

I looked around for the nearest exit.

In a nutshell, ‘The Shape of Things’ was about four students at a small midwestern college, who seduce and sleep with each other. Along the way, there’s jealousy, control and transformations. Yet, it wasn’t just another entertaining drama. There was a deeper level, one about morality with religious undertones.

Throughout this play, Neil LaBute, the Canadian playwright and filmmaker, who attended Brigham Young University, reveals many Adam and Eve metaphors, including the spray-painted statue with fig leaves, Adam’s total transformation, even his “EAT” tattoo.

“I don’t like art that isn’t true,” states Evelyn, a graduate art student (beautifully played by Tierra) as she edges under the guardrail with her spray can. “What are the fig leaves covering? His ‘cluster’?”

This was the first time that we meet Adam and Eve, or Adam and modern-day Evelyn. You know the old story in Genesis, Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge after God told them not to. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the snake. They are naked before God, so they hide behind the fig leaves.

Strong-willed Evelyn spray paints a penis on God. What does that say about her? In the end, she claims she is someone who puts “art” above all else, including her fellow man, religion, family and community.

Yet, Adam (convincingly played by Dylan) falls in love with Evelyn, and miraculously changes before her. He exercises, lifts weights, eats better and tries new things, such as a haircut and contact lenses.

He doesn’t mind when Evelyn videotapes their sexual encounters.

He can’t believe that someone so beautiful wants to be with him. Typical guy, looking at the surface, or The Shape of Things, and not the psychopath that lies underneath.

Never mind that his best friends, Phillip (played by sophomore Dakota) and Jenny (played by Meghan, a senior), don’t like her. At first, they’re amused that he’s improving physically. Phillip is glad that he finally ditched his old corduroy jacket after three long years. Jenny, Phillip’s fiancé, loves the sparkle in his eyes that his new contacts bring. So much so that she sleeps with him. Yet, when Adam undergoes rhinoplasty (Evelyn’s suggestion), and lies about it, they become alarmed.

At their first group meeting, Phillip gets into a shouting match with Evelyn over the spray-painting episode at the museum. Evelyn defends the artist (herself), but never owns up to the deed. Why not? Especially since she felt so strongly about it. Likely, she didn’t want to get arrested before her “project” was completed.

“I knew what was going to happen,” stated Paul, a fashion major, after the show. “But I just didn’t expect it to be so cruel.”

(On right) Dylan, who plays Adam, is an experienced actor onstage and screen

Paul was among the many sullen faces in the audience during the final scene when Evelyn admits that she used Adam as her art thesis “sculpture.”

“As my grandpa would say, ‘He’s a real piece of work!'” Evelyn said as she unveiled photos of Adam’s transformation from nerd to stud.

Yep, she’s right. Adam looked better, was stronger and more confident. Yet, he was genuinely in love with Evelyn and wanted to marry her. He even put her initials on his hip, “E.A.T.”

“What? Could you not afford the word, ‘Me?’ Evelyn asked him earlier before the rhinoplasty.

“No, it’s your initials,” Adam said, unaware that he was being devoured.

Although there was a lot of dialog throughout the play, the best words came at the end.

“Sorry that you’re so upset,” said Evelyn, as she stood amongst her installation clutter, including the engagement ring and sex videos.

“You messed up my life and put it under glass,” shouted Adam. “F–k you, you heartless B–ch! You don’t see it as wrong?”

Evelyn claimed that she never loved him, and didn’t want a relationship. Yes, she seduced him, for art’s sake, but that was all. She should thank him, actually, because he’s better looking than before.

(At L with Sasha) Tierra showed her good-girl acting talents in "Jayne Eyre," but the darker side in "The Shape of Things"

Trying to force morality on someone who doesn’t have it is nearly impossible. All of Adam’s words were in vain. At the end of the play, he’s left alone, looking at their sex tape.

“That doesn’t surprise me that this play had a double meaning,” said Jesse, a theater major, after being told that the leads were named Adam and Eve. “All of Neil LaBute’s plays have duality.”

(Kat Factor, a poet and head of the Interdisciplinary Arts (IM) Department, mentioned the Adam and Eve connection afterwards. In turn, I told it to many of the students who saw the play, who all said, “Ahhh!”)

LaBute is known for his terse language (like David Mamet) and his cynical themes of love and lust.  In his first film, “In the Company of Men,” (1997) two men seduce and dump a deaf female coworker “for the fun of it.”

LaBute didn’t stray far from his cynicism and cruelty years later in “The Shape of Things.”

After the great performance Sunday, I was angry — at Evelyn, college boys and cynical playwrights —  for their unabashed cruelty. Not all artists are like Evelyn, so self-absorbed and mean-spirited, Neil.

But it also brought back a bad memory from my college days at UNL. One Saturday night, about 50 fraternity boys all went to the local bars. They were having a contest to see who could pick up the ugliest girl. Then they brought them all back to the frat house for a “party.” Left alone in a room for awhile, these ugly girls realized that their cruel “joke.” I wasn’t one of them, but I could have been.

Ah, The Shape of Things!

In this play, Neil LaBute shows us what one man was willing to do for “the sake of love,” or sex, and what one woman was willing to do “for the sake of art.”

That’s it.

It’s not about all fine artists everywhere. It’s just one person’s view. An entertaining and twisted view.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 24, 2012 @ 14:26

New CRV Policy for Recycling Center

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Andrew from Earthwize had to announce the company's new policy on milk jugs

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Monday, Jan. 16, Earthwize, the recycling center near the Stater Bros. in Hemet, announced a new policy.

They are no longer taking non-CA CRV plastic milk jugs or 100% juice containers.

“We just got an email this morning saying that it’s our new policy,” said Andrew, who has worked at Earthwize for four months. “It’s got to say ‘California CRV’ on it, or we can’t take it.”

Before Monday, Earthwize would allow recyclers to intermingle their non-CRV milk and juice jugs with their other CA-CRV plastic bottles. For example, empty milk jugs would be mixed and weighed with Coke and Pepsi containers.

You can tell what is recyclable and what isn’t by looking for the ‘CA CRV’ redemption symbol printed on the bottles.

“The milk jugs would add more weight and give them a little bit more, but not much,” said Andrew.

According to Earthwize’s overhead sign, the company would pay $1.43 a pound for mixed plastic bottles (including CA CRV and non-CRV) or $1.54 a pound for pure CA CRV plastic containers. That is, until Monday.

Taking these recyclables without California CRV was more of a courtesy for our company, Andrew said. He would just store them in a separate container the back and someone would pick them up and dispose of them.

Andrew explains the new policy to a customer

“We’d get about 100 of those plastic jugs a day,” he said. “They were taking up a lot of space.”

Andrew thinks the new policy may be a space saver for the company, but more than likely, it was the State of California that determined the new recycling policy.

“The state evaluates all of the recycling centers, from time to time,” Andrew explained. “Then they take into account all that is recyclable and what isn’t.”

The State of California sets the policy, our company doesn’t, he added.

The state must’ve determined that penny glass (wine bottles) weren’t cost-effective either. Most recycling places won’t take them now, but the Transfer Station in Idyllwild will.

Each person who came up to the Earthwize recycling center in Hemet that morning got the verbal announcement about the new policy from Andrew. Most of them took it in stride, but one guy got angry.

“What am I supposed to do with all of them now?” he asked Andrew.

“They are supposed to take them back with them, but a few people dropped them into my trash bins when I wasn’t looking,” Andrew said.

Hopefully, Earthwize will revise their sign soon, so Andrew won’t have to make their new policy announcement 100 times a day.

Andrew points to the former Earthwize price for mixed plastic bottles

He didn’t seem to mind, however.

For more information about Earthwize and their recycling policies, call (909) 605-5770 or visit www.earthwizerecycling.com.

Earthwize is based out of Ontario, California, but has recycling centers all over the state. The closest one to Idyllwild is at the bottom of the hill, next to the Stater Bros.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Casey Abram’s Expanding Fan Base

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Casey banner by Idyllwild artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“Is your most famous celebrity still living in Idyllwild?”

It was Saturday night, Jan. 14, and we were chatting at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District of Palm Springs.

Sorry, Casey, but I instantly thought of “The Bronze Buckaroo,” Herb Jeffries, and not you. Although she was pretty, this woman was middle-aged.

“We just loved watching Casey each week on ‘American Idol’ (Season 10),” exclaimed Brenda Friend, of Palm Springs. “My friends and I even went to Los Angeles where they taped the show to meet him and get an autograph, but it never happened.”

She was almost giddy.

“Then we were thinking of going up to Idyllwild to meet him, if he still lived there.”

Going from relative obscurity to instant celebrity must be a surreal thing for Casey. To find middle-aged fans like Brenda who are willing to travel great distances to meet him. But the young ones are rabid too!

Remember when the ‘American Idol Live’ Tour ended Sept. 20-21 in The Philippines? Bianca King, a young actress, was hell-bent on meeting Casey, so she turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass.

They hit it off and had a good laugh when Bianca told him that if he dyed his hair black and got a spray tan, he’d make it as an actor in The Philippines. She then posted pictures of the two of them on her blog site.

Casey playing with other Idyllwild Arts students at the LA Club. Photo by Marcia Gawecki

Back at the Art Walk in Palm Springs, I told Brenda Friend that Casey’s parents still lived in Idyllwild, and Ira Abrams worked with me at Idyllwild Arts.

Then I found myself promising I would try to get Casey’s autograph.

I secretly hoped it was possible.

Brenda wrote down her Palm Springs address, and then rushed over to tell her husband and friends.

The funny thing was that Brenda hadn’t even heard about Casey’s latest You Tube video announcing his record deal with Concord Records. It’s the same label as Carole King and Kenny G.

Casey’s mom, Pam Pierce, sent an email saying there was an Idyllwild Arts connection to the video. The song was written, recorded and produced by Casey (all instruments and voices). The video was shot and edited at Idyllwild Arts by Nick Cain and Sean Stromsoe of Persistent Vision (former Idyllwild Arts film students).

“Oh, he’s so natural and fun-loving in front of the camera,” Brenda exclaimed. “His parents raised him right.”

To view Casey’s announcement video, click here: Casey_Abrams_Signed-1

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me (text and images, but not video). All rights reserved.

More than Just Pretty Costumes

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

(from L) Gracie and Minnie discuss outfit options for the next show

By Marcia E. Gawecki

One of her best-known student productions was “The Learned Ladies,” by Moliere, in which she painted French words in oversized script letters directly to the fishnet on the girl’s ball gowns.

“That turned out pretty well,” said Minnie Christine Walters, who heads up the Costume Shop (part of the Theater Department) at Idyllwild Arts. “Howard Shangraw was pleased.”

Over the past seven years, Minnie has created the costumes for comedies, dramas, period pieces and anything Howard Shangraw, head of the Theater Department, would throw at her.

“We work well together,” she said of Howard. “He doesn’t scare me.”

Most times for the student productions, she has a limited deadline, a small budget, yet she has access to many resources. She has worked in the business for more than three decades, and has earned three advanced degrees. Besides Idyllwild Arts, she teaches at the Art Institute in San Bernardino, and can draw upon many sources to get her costumes.

(from L) Minnie discusses the colors Kent-Harris' character, Phillip, would wear

“Did you see ‘For the Birds?'” Minnie asks. “There were some showgirl costumes that I borrowed from a friend of mine in New York. It’s good sometimes when you don’t have to start from scratch.”

One of her more challenging productions was for Redlands College in which she had to create 4,000 dance costumes.

Oftentimes, she said, the costume designer is brought in late into the planning of the production. For this one, she designed the dresses on paper, but had all of them made in China. It took about a month.

“It would have been impossible to pull off any other way,” she said.

For the next Idyllwild Arts production, “In the Shape of Things,” Minnie and her Costume Shop crew had it relatively easy.

“There’s only four actors in the play, so each of the students gets to focus on one actor,” Minnie explained.

She had her Costume Shop students,Tenaya, Grace, Bess and Kent-Harris, all create “mood boards,” of magazine cut-outs of what each of the actors would wear. They read the script and broke them down scene-by-scene.

Mood boards help students in the Costume Shop stick to the script

“For example, Tenaya’s character, Eve (played by Tara) is a controlling black widow of a woman,” Minnie explained. “So we’re dressing her in red and black tight-fitting outfits with stiletto heels.”

With their mood boards and calculators in hand, the Costume Shop crew and Minnie drove to Hemet on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to hit as many thrift shops and outlet stores as they could find.

They ended up going to four, including two different Goodwill Stores, Marshall’s, and Angel View Thrift Shop. On the list was the 9.99 store, Target and Kohls, but they didn’t need to go there.

Minnie’s budget for five outfits for the four characters, including shoes, jackets and jewelry, was only $300.

“Oh, we’ll make it,” she said, unnerved. “We’re going to thrift stores where you can get purses and shoes for under $10.”

At Marshall’s, the first stop, Gracie showed her outfits to Minnie. She liked that the student kept to the show’s color palette–muted purple, fuschia, gray, black and red. She showed her a little purple “balloon” dress for only $10, but Minnie refused. Too much bare shoulders for her character, Jenny (played by Meghan).

Tenaya came over with glitter stiletto heels for Eve, but was also turned down by Minnie. At $40 a pair, they cost too much.

“I love them so much, I just might buy them for myself,” Tenaya exclaimed. “But my mom would kill me!”

(from L) Tenaya and Bess wait in line with their costume selections at Goodwill

Kent-Harris found a nice blue polo shirt for “Phillip,” played by Dakota. He offered a selection to Minnie, who picked the muted blue over the periwinkle blue.

“I love this color, but it’s too bold for your character,” she explained to Kent-Harris. “And we don’t want him upstaging Eve.”

Throughout the day, Minnie was continually reminding the students about the characters, and the script.

One of their bigger challenges was finding two Rock Star type T-shirts that looked exactly alike. In one scene for the next show, one of the male characters goes to bed wearing the Rock n’ Roll T-shirt, and the girl wears it the next day.

“We need two exact shirts because it’s a quick scene change, and we don’t have time to switch over one shirt,” Minnie explained.

When Tenaya was looking for a purse for Eve at the Goodwill Store, she showed two options to Minnie. One was a fuschia bag with a stylish flower on the side, and the other was a glitter bag with a black strap.

“I like the fuschia bag because it matches her outfits,” Tenaya explained. “But the glitter bag has a velcro clasp, and it would be easy to open and close onstage.”

“Remember, Eve will be taking the spray paint cans out of the bag,” Minnie added.

Kent-Harris would add up all of the prices on his cell phone's calculator

“The fuschia bag also has a snap, so it’ll be easy to open and close too,” Tenaya said. “And then you wouldn’t have that loud velcro sound.”

They decided to get both and let Howard pick the one he wanted.

And so the day went, looking at clothing, matching the character, and sticking to their budget. At each store, they would gather together and show each other what they wanted. Then Kent-Harris would add up the total on his cell phone calculator.

Sometimes, they would have to toss things back because of the price or the faulty material.

At Angel View Thrift Shop, Minnie found a potential dress for Eve. It was black, form-fitting with man criss-crossed lines in the front.

“I like this dress because of the web-like criss-crossing in the front,” she said. “Eve is a black widow spider, and this might be perfect for her.”

While they were waiting for Kent-Harris at Angel View, Tenaya, Gracie and Bess all tried on prom dresses. They had a dance coming up soon and the prices were great. Bess and Tenaya bought theirs for under $20.

After five hours of shopping, they broke for dinner. The only item still at large was a leather jacket for “Phillip,” Kent-Harris’ character.

“I’ll ask Howard if we can go to the Help Center in town,” Minnie said.

She also has outfits left over from other productions that she might be able to draw from.

Students would ask each other for input. Here, Tenaya holds up a sheer blouse for Eve.

Minnie said that they measured the four actors, but didn’t ask for their imput on their costumes.

“I’ve learned over the years that actors’ imput can just put a wrench in things,” Minnie said. “One actor that I knew refused to wear a green shirt because someone told him that he didn’t look good in green. But the green shirt is for the character, not the actor.”

Minnie’s background is strong for theater. She has a Bachelor of Arts in fashion, a Master’s degree in Musical Theater with an emphasis on Acting, and an MFA in Costume Design. She says sometimes people treat her like a “dumb seamstress,” but she sometimes has to mention her advanced degrees and put them in their place.

She admitted that most Theater students at Idyllwild Arts are agreeable with her selections, but they sometimes complain about things being itchy. Some of their selections for “In the Shape of Things” was wool and leather.

“Would it be too hot for the actors onstage?”

“I never worry about that,” Minnie said. “That comes with the territory of being an actor. There’s going to be hot  lights most of the time. If they can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

If anything Minnie and her crew have picked is ill-fitting for the actors, they can always sew it and make it right. When a jacket was the right style and the wrong color before, she’s spray-painted them.

“Some of the costumes end up not looking so great up close,” Minnie admitted. “But as long as it looks good to the audience, that’s all we care about.”

All the bags filled the back of the school van, and the students were giddy about their selections. Minnie advised them to arrange all of their outfits so that Howard could approve them the next day. However, as they headed for the Costume Shop (in the basement at Bowman), Howard’s car was parked outside.

(from L) Bess had to shop for a male character, Adam, played by Dylan.

“Guess we’re going to talk about the outfits tonight,” Minnie said.

During the “In the Shape of Things” set for next weekend, Jan. 20-21 and 22 at Rush Hall, Minnie and her crew will be in the basement, helping the actors with their costume changes.

“It’s a pretty sexy play,” Bess explained. “But Howard toned it down a bit because we’re teenagers. In my old school, they would never do that.”

“Yes, but we don’t want to embarrass the other students who are coming to the show,” Tenaya said.

Minnie just smiled. All of the costumes were nearly ready, but there was a lot more work to be done on show day.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 14, 2012 @ 11:22

Action Photographer Helps Idyllwild

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Fire near Black Mountain Sunday. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The emergency dispatch call came in at 2:53 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8. There was a fire burning on Hwy. 243 off Black Mountain Road near Pine Cove.

By 3:30 a.m., she was on the scene taking pictures next to the fire trucks. By 5 a.m., she had posted two of the best fire photos on Facebook and emailed them as a warning to others.

She also sent copies to the Idyllwild Town Crier and other media outlets to post on their web sites as “Breaking News.”

You could say that Idyllwild freelance photographer Jenny Kirchner thrives on chaos.

She spent three years as the main photographer for the Idyllwild Town Crier covering fires, accidents, natural disasters, and crime. At that time, she was using all of her own equipment, but purchased a police scanner and GPS device to help her to be first on the scene.

However, it was her “softer” photos of Idyllwild School kids playing soccer that won her national journalism awards.

Now that she’s a freelancer, Jenny can’t stay away from the natural disasters. Her best friend, Jill, is a dispatch operator in the desert who lets her know when things are unfolding.

“It’s a thrill being so close as things are happening,” Jenny admits. “But I also like knowing that my photos are helping people.”

She remembers grumbling to herself at 5 a.m., with no sleep, that people better check their emails about the fire in the morning.

The fire photos she sent out went to homeowners in the area, and van drivers from Idyllwild Arts Academy who were going down the hill early Sunday morning. (Jenny is also a part-time van driver for Idyllwild Arts). Julia Countryman is both a homeowner and a van driver.

Jenny captured the intensity of the fire in the early morning. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.

“I saw Jenny’s pictures before I left for Ontario Airport Sunday morning,” Julie said. “And told my daughter that if the fire comes over the ridge, we’re evacuating.”

Since Jenny’s posting, there were several reports of the fire online, but none had her spectacular shots.

Even though it was dark at 3:30 a.m., Jenny managed to get both the blue skies overhead with the fire’s orange and yellow intensity, and the scrubby brown brush below.

In the second photo, Jenny captured the wind as it moved the fire along. She was at a safe distance, but everyone knows how quickly winds can change to move the fire in another direction. Gusts were reported up to 60 mph that day.

She sent the Idyllwild Town Crier her fire photos as a “professional courtesy” for them to use on its web site. They gave her photo credit and are in the process of negotiating a freelance contract.

Obviously, they know the value of a local photographer who is willing to bypass danger, give up sleep and take awesome action photos for them.

In addition, Jenny posts her fire photos and those of other disasters on her own web site, www.jennykphoto.com. The web site generates commissions to do other photography work. She likes covering sports events, she says, but would rather not do weddings. Perhaps they’re not exciting or dangerous enough?

Jenny Kirchner’s fire photos can be found on her web site, www.jennykphoto.com, and the Idyllwild Town Crier’s web site, www.towncrier.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 10, 2012 @ 12:39

 

Idyllwild Resident’s 30th Consumer Electronics Show

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Idyllwild resident Charles Schlacks, Jr. is attending his 30th Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Today, Charles Schlacks, Jr., 80, an Idyllwild publisher and record collector, will attend his 30th  Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The show is estimated to attract 150,000 attendees, however, it’s open to only “those in the electronics industry,” Charles says.

For the past three decades, Charles has received a “press” pass, which is an all-access pass to the vendor booths and lectures. However, this year, CES sent him an “entertainment” pass, which offers pretty much the same access. Without the pass, however, the show would cost Charles $100 a day.

Charles is considered “press” because he publishes two trade journals, “Muzaka,” about Russian music past and present; and “Music and Society in Eastern Europe,” which discusses discographies (musical histories) of open reel tapes and records.

Charles is not like the other journalists who write about their likes and dislikes of the popular trade show. He’s attending for his personal enjoyment of music. Each year, he takes about two dozen classical records (audiophile LPs) and goes from booth to booth at the Flamingo and Venician Hotels.

He’s looking for good turn tables and card readers to play his high-quality audiophile LPs. Generally, he knows everybody and returns to the same booths each year. In the four days of the show, he’ll visit about 50 of them.

The CES exhibitors take Charles’ records and play them on their stereo systems, which range from $250 to $150,000. Both enjoy the experience.

“As a whole, I found out they prefer analog to digital,” Charles said. “My records sound much better than CDs and DVDs.”

Over the past three years, however, there’s been a resurgence of turn table manufacturers and the re-release of dozens of new vinyl recordings (LP records), Charles noted.

He’s happy that companies are reissuing classical, pop and jazz records from the 1950s. Some of the originals are likely in Charles’ record collection.

Charles has been collecting classical records since 1946. He has about 45,000 now.

Since 1946, when he was about 15 years old, Charles has been collecting classical records. There’s only classical records, no rock n’ roll, jazz, pop or vocalists.

“My friends from England couldn’t believe that Charles had never heard of The Beatles,” said Jeffrey Taylor, from Green Cafe in Idyllwild, of his longtime friend. “Who hasn’t heard of the Beatles?”

But now that he’s 80 years old, Charles has amassed about 45,000 classical LPs that he stores in Hemet, with a small amount in his Idyllwild home.

Eventually, Charles plans to sell the majority of his collection to record collectors in Los Angeles and individuals over the internet. His records are his retirement, he says, and they will help him pay off his house.

Although it’s not his plan, Charles will take a list of the details of his 45,000 record collection to the CES this weekend, just in case someone is interested in buying a few hundred of them. In past years, Charles has returned from the CES with small sales that he ships out of the Idyllwild Post Office, or drives to northern California. Once, he tried to deliver records up to San Francisco in a day.

“I’ll never do that again,” Charles said of the 7-hour drive. “I was so tired that I had to stay overnight, and that cost me about $75. Next time, the buyer would have to pay shipping or my gas and lodging.”

Charles doesn’t generally attend the keynote lectures at the CES. In the past, it’s usually been someone from Microsoft, he said.

“Was it Bill Gates?” asked Jeffrey Taylor, who had worked for Apple after college.

This year, however, Microsoft is scaling back and Apple doesn’t plan to attend, Charles said. According to today’s Los Angeles Times, Microsoft has its exit planned, saying it wants to announce its products on its own timetable. The absence of Apple has long spurred manufacturers to bring out Apple-type products that quickly fade from the marketplace.

At the same time as the CES in Las Vegas, other shows are going on. At  “T.H.E. Show,” last year, Charles got a “shout out” from the keynote speaker, the editor of Stereophile magazine.

According to Charles, the speaker asked Charles to stand up and be recognized.

“I’ve seen you every year as long as I’ve been coming here,” the man said. “You must be the oldest veteran here.”

Of course, there was a round of applause, and they congratulated him afterwards on his dedication and longevity. In a few months, Charles may see some of them again.

Charles belongs to the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society, which will be sponsoring “T.H.E. Show” for three days in Irvine in June.

However, for the next four glorious days, Charles will busy himself with the Consumer Electronics Show, visiting 30-40 exhibitors.

“I like to meet people who enjoy good music,” Charles said.

His light blue hybrid car has vanity plates which read, “FFSS,” which stands for “full frequency stereophonic sound. The first LP with FFSS was recorded in 1958.

“It was the greatest audio recording ever,” Charles said.

In his collection, he has hundreds of audiophile recordings. For more information about his collection, email Charles Schlacks directly at: schlacks.slavic@greencafe.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Strong Winds at Ontario Airport Sunday

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Strong winds welcomed travelers to Ontario International Airport at 9 a.m. on Sunday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Sunday morning, Jan. 8, the overhead hazard sign on Hwy. 10 near Riverside read: “Strong winds ahead. High profile vehicles not recommended.”

There weren’t many trucks on the highway at that time because they could “fishtail” all over the road. At area rest stops, many trucks were parked, likely waiting for the winds to subside.

Palm trees blew and Acacias bowed in the wind. Debris blew across the road.

Just then, the school van moved to the left without me turning the wheel. That was really scary! So I slowed way down. I was glad that no students were in the van then because they would have been nervous.

At 9 a.m., I entered Ontario International Airport to pick up students from Idyllwild Arts Academy who were coming back from Winter Break. Classes would resume on Monday, Jan. 9. However, with the strong winds in Riverside and Ontario, it was debatable if all the planes would land.

Strong winds near Riverside and Ontario kept large trucks off of Hwy. 10

According to Weather.com, a national weather website, winds at Ontario on Sunday were strong at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., gusting to 37 mph.

However, after the 6:57 a.m. sunrise, they diminished to approximately 22 mph at 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. when most of the students were arriving.

“United cancelled a lot of flights this morning,” said Janet, a volunteer at Ontario Airport. “We’re not sure if it’s because of the strong winds or bad weather at another airport. They don’t give us the details.”

However, Wilma, another volunteer, said that travelers had been stopping by their booth all morning to get vouchers to go elsewhere.

(from L) Ontario Airport volunteers Wilma and Janet said many flights were cancelled earlier Sunday

“One poor guy over there has been waiting nine hours to get home,” Janet added.

Wilma said that the cancelled flights seem to be connecting through Denver.

Janet looked at the newspaper she was reading and said it was 34 degrees in Denver with snowfall.

Many of the Idyllwild Arts students expected to arrive were coming from northern California or the southwest, with no connections through Denver.

They arrived on time without much mention of the wind. Siryah’s direct flight from Oregon was an hour late because of another plane delay, and not the wind, she said.

However, others students coming from northern California complained about the wind’s turbulence around Ontario, even when the winds supposedly had diminished.

“That was not fun,” said Will, a music student, about his 2 p.m. Southwest plane’s landing. “We heard that you guys had some wind on the ground here.”

The shuttle driver at Ontario Airport said that the winds were pretty strong around 9 a.m. when he arrived for his shift, but everything turned calm around 1 p.m. That was about the time that Weather.com, reported that the winds had subsided.

Ontario Airport still bustled with activity on Sunday, in spite of the strong winds

“I’m sure if the winds got too bad, they’d close down the airport,” the shuttle driver added. “But I’ve worked here three years now and it hasn’t happened yet.”

He went on to say that fog was a bigger factor in closing down area airports, such as San Diego and Longbeach.

“They’ll land over here if there’s fog in San Diego,” he said. “Pilots can’t see anything in the fog.”

By 5 p.m. when the last van headed toward the San Jacinto mountains from Ontario, the winds had diminished to 9 mph, hardly worth mentioning. However, the nearly full moon was looming large and beckoning us home.

Copyright 2o12 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 9, 2012 @ 9:08

 

 

Caballero Sells Eucalyptus Wood in Idyllwild

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Samuel Perez, 77, from San Jacinto, shows off his roping skills while he sells hard wood in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Most weekends, you’ll see him in a cowboy hat throwing his rope next to his truck full of wood near Strawberry Creek Plaza in Idyllwild. Lean and handsome, he looks like an extra in a Hollywood movie. But he’s the real McCoy.

Samuel Perez, 77, came by train to the San Jacquin Valley from Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1961 with the U.S. Bracero Program, which brought in thousands of “strong-arm” contract laborers after WWII.

He said about 2,000 of them lived together on the farm and picked strawberries.

“It was hard work,” he said, shaking his head.

Since then, there have been better times for Samuel and his family. He has a new home in San Jacinto now, but the eucalyptus wood that he sells comes from his 3-acre ranch in Winchester which is now rented to another family. There’s only horses there now, but he used to buy and sell cattle at the San Jacinto Auction until the accident.

“I broke this bone,” he said in halting English, pointing to his femer bone on his thigh. “There are two pins in there.”

He also had his hip replaced.

Samuel sells a half cord of eucalyptus wood for $130 in Idyllwild

The accident happened when Samuel was herding cattle through a corral, and one of the steers panicked and gouged his leg.

Now he has two horses, a quarter horse named “Mr. Perez,” and an Andalusia named, “Napoleon.”

On weekends, he loads up eucalypus wood that he cuts from trees on his ranch (less than 18 inches in diameter) and comes up to Idyllwild. He charges $130 for about 1/2 cord and will deliver to any home here.

He has no regular customers, but would like to build up some clientele.

From September to October, he was coming up about twice a week, but in November, everything came to a halt.

“I wasn’t selling anything in November,” Samuel said.

He took December off, but was back in a different roping spot near Mountain Harvest Market on Saturday, Jan. 7. He looked like a vision standing in the sunlight with his cowboy hat and rope.

One Idyllwild resident offered to buy Samuel Perez's rope

Just then, an Idyllwild resident came up and asked how much he wanted for the rope.

“This one is not for sale,” Samuel explained. “I brought it from Guadalajara, and it cost me about $200, that I cut into pieces.”

He told the guy that he’d bring him another one next Tuesday.

It looked like regular rope to me, something that you’d buy by the yard at Forest Lumber. But cowboys know ropes, and both of these guys knew the true value of it. It will likely cost one as much as a truckload of wood.

Samuel will stack the wood for elderly women, he said, if they offer him a $10 or $20 tip.

“But not for the guys,” he said with a laugh. “They can stack it themselves!”

However, one elderly woman asked him to deliver the half cord of wood, and stack part of it near the front of the house. Then she told him to drive around to the back of the property and stack the rest of it.

“She was expecting too much,” he said.

The woman also had a big dog that was part wolf that she kept inside the house. When she wrote him the check, Samuel couldn’t wait to get out of there. He said the wolf-dog’s head came up to waist level.

Samuel will take cash or local checks for the eucalyptus hard wood. He’s up in Idyllwild most weekends, but you can reach him directly at (951) 692-2084.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

‘Three Viewings’ Play Tonight

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Three Viewings is a comedy made up of three monologues. Courtesy art.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Isis Theatre Company will present, “Three Viewings,” a three-act play by Jeffrey Hatcher at the Quiet Creek Inn Gallery . Since this is a “Reader’s Theater,” everything is pared down to a minimal set, props and only three actors.

Yet, those three actors will make all of the difference. The show, directed by Suzanne Avalon, stars Isis regulars Howard Shangraw, Ann DeWolfe and Alicia Dufour. It’s a comedy set in a funeral parlor and comprised of three bittersweet monologues. Each of the three have just lost a loved one and talk about how they plan to cope with their lives.

They’ve lost, are longing and are uncertain. Yet, to pull it off, each of these actors must practice restraint.

For one, Howard Shangraw, will do a great job. He has to. He heads up the Theater Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy. A couple years ago, Howard wowed Idyllwild audiences in his portrayal as an East German transvestite in Doug Wright’s Pulitzer Prize Winning play, “I Am My Own Wife.” Onstage, Howard played multiple characters. Not an easy feat indeed.

Howard won’t have to play more than one person tonight, but you can bet that his performance will make you laugh, cry and cheer for him. After all, his theater students are returning from Winter Break this weekend, and this will be his last chance in the spotlight.

The Isis Theatre Company will present “Three Viewings” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Quiet Creek Gallery, located at 54300 North Circle Drive (next to the Rustic Theater). The Quiet Creek Gallery grants its gallery space for free for community events such as tonight’s show. Tickets are $12 and seating is limited to about 50.

For more information, contact Suzanne Avalon at (951) 692-9553 or visit www.isistheatrecompany.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.