Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Me’

Poet Targets Taboo Topic Tuesday Night

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Matthew Dickman with Ed Skoog and his infant son

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“It’s called three poems and three suicides,” Matthew Dickman said matter-of-factly about the title of his upcoming poetry recital.

He’s a poet from Portland, and at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program this week to teach an adult poetry class. On Tuesday night at 7 p.m., Matthew will read along with four other poets at the Krone Library on campus.

Matthew has firsthand experience with suicide, which is often considered a taboo subject in our culture. His older brother committed suicide, along with several of his friends who were artists.

“We often think of teens as the biggest group that commits suicide,” Matthew said. “But actually geriatric suicide is more common. When an 85-year-old grandmother quits eating, we accept that as ‘her time to go.'”

In past lectures on suicide, Matthew has asked members of the audience to stand if they have had a family member commit suicide. A few stand up. Then he asks those who had a spouse, lover or close friend commit suicide to stand. A larger group stands up. Then he asks those who have known someone from school or work who have committed suicide.

“By then, most of the audience are standing,” Matthew explained. “And those who are sitting fall into one of those groups, but are too shy to stand. Unfortunately, in our culture, it’s just a matter of time when you know of someone who has committed suicide.”

He said that his older brother was a great person, and had attempted suicide before, so it wasn’t a surprise. He recounted an experience with him in an Irish Pub in Portland:

“It got really crowded in the bar towards the end of the night and I bumped into a guy with my shoulder. It was an accident, but he grabbed me squarely on the shoulder,” Matthew recalled. “In the bar mirror, I could see the flash of a knife blade, so I tried to push him away. Within seconds, my older brother was there, shoving the guy up against the wall.”

Violence was more common than not in the working class Portland neighborhood where Matthew grew up.  His family home was a safe oasis for many kids, away from the neighborhood violence.

Matthew will teach a poetry class at Idyllwild Arts this week

At a young age, Matthew identified with a photo of the Beat Poets standing on a San Francisco street corner.

“There they were, Kerouac, Ginsberg and the rest, all standing there, not wanting to fight anyone or push drugs,” Matthew recalled. “They just wanted to change the world with their poetry.”

Later on, Matthew met Alan Ginsberg at a book signing in Portland.

“My brother handed me a bunch of Ginsberg’s books and told me to get them signed, and we’d meet up at the coffee house later,” Matthew said.

So he went, and when it came time for him to meet the Beat Poet, Matthew mentioned that his writer aunt had once worked with Ginsberg in a hospital.

“He ignored my comment, and instead asked me about my love life,” Matthew said.

He fumbled for an answer, Ginsberg signed the books and Matthew walked away.

“He was totally hitting on you, dude,” his friends said. “You should talk to him.”

When the crowd thinned out, Matthew ended up talking to Ginsberg, and invited him to join his twin brother and friends at a local coffee shop. Ginsberg was in his 70s at the time, and Matthew was 18.

“He was totally cool,” Matthew said of the experience.

They read poetry, practiced Buddhism and ate chocolates over the next few days. He said that he and Ginsberg had kept in touch by email and phone until he became sick.

“Then I never heard from him again,” Matthew said.

After his death, Matthew wrote a poem called, “I miss you, Alan Ginsberg.”

Matthew also wrote a poem about his older brother’s suicide in his first book of poetry, “All American Poem” (2008). With his twin brother, Michael, he wrote another book entitled, “50 American Plays” (2012), one for each state. In October, Matthew has another poetry book coming out entitled, “Mayaknovky’s Revolver.”

In his poetry class this week, Matthew prefers to put the suicide topic front and center so there’s no surprises. He said most of the adults who take his class come to heal from the experience.

“I don’t expect great writing,” he said. “Oftentimes, words escape you when your emotions are intense.”

But he hopes to help them turn their harrowing experience into art.

Matthew said that he met Ed Skoog, who is in charge of Poetry Workshop during the Summer Program, when he officiated at his brother’s wedding.

“Not only can Ed write poetry, but he plays a mean banjo,” Matthew laughed.

Besides teaching poetry, Matthew edits a national poetry journal, and freelances for advertising agencies. Only just recently, he said, he’s been able to support himself through his writing.

He started writing poetry when he was a sophomore in high school to impress a senior who was interested in poetry.

“She liked one of my poems, and we got to make out,” Matthew recalled. “After that, I just kept writing.”

Since then, Matthew has won many awards, and garnered national attention for his lyrical poems.

On Tuesday, July 17, Matthew will read some of his works at 7 p.m. at the Krone Library on the Idyllwild Arts campus (located at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild). Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

NY City Principal Jock Soto’s Piece Performed Friday

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Jock Soto came to Idyllwild to choreograph a Native Arts dance

By Marcia E. Gawecki

To close off Native American Arts Week at Idyllwild Arts, two faculty dancers will perform a piece choreographed by Jock Soto, retired principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, during his visit to Idyllwild Arts a couple of months ago. The Pas de Deax will be performed at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus.

When Jock Soto retired after 25 years as principal for the New York City Ballet in 2005, he wrote a book about his life and career for Random House. He said that he was fortunate that he was able to learn dances quickly so that people liked to work with him. He credits his mother, the first female hoop dancer, with giving him strength.

He still teaches ballet at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York where he learned how to dance professionally.

Tonight, Soto’s piece will be performed by his friend, Jonathan Sharp, and Ellen Rosa, from the Idyllwild Arts dance department. It features original music by Laura Ortman, a White Mountain Apache, who is a musician and composer from Brooklyn. The Cahuilla Birdsingers also will perform.

Over the years, Jock worked with many choreographers, including George Balanchine, who personally asked him to join the New York City Ballet.

Jock said that he enjoys choreographing dances, like the Pas de Deux that he will be performing with Laura tonight at 7 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on campus. Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 265-6755.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Casey Abrams’ Album Release Set for June 26

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Casey Abrams latest album will be released Tuesday. Banner art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“American Idol” heartthrob Casey Abrams’ first self-titled album is set for release on Tuesday, June 26. Already several web sites have showcased his entire album, including the Hollywood Reporter and Amazon.

Not to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn’t heard the album yet, I’ll speak in general terms. Casey is singing about his life in real time. About living the simple life, falling in and out of love, longing and not changing his personality in spite of fame.

One fan said on the MJS big blog site, that he’d surely buy Casey’s album for it’s great music, but the themes of rejection and longing for the unattainable reminded him too much of his own “loser teenage years.” Yet, “Hit the Road Jack,” a duet with Haley Reinhart, was well worth the album price (Amazon presale: $9.99).

Most of the upbeat, Bob Marley-type tunes, were likely written by Casey because they are clever. You’re tapping and singing along, dancing along even, and then he throws a few zingers that shows he has a soul or at least lived a few lifetimes already.

The three tunes that I can mention (because Casey has already released them as singles on You Tube) are “Get Out,” “Simple Life” and “Stuck in London.”

“Simple Life” (studio version) could be about living his high school years in Idyllwild. Casey sings about unplugging his laptop, cell phone and TV, and enjoying the simple life. He injects a bit of humor by stating that he should never had dumped that hand-me-down from dad (Ira Abrams from the Idyllwild Arts Film Department). What was Ira’s hand-me-down–clothes, a Cadillac or a musical instrument? Casey never says.

His “Get Out” lyrics are heartbreaking, even though they are sung in an upbeat way: “Lately, I’ve been going crazy/ cuz I want you, baby/but you don’t/ so get out, get out, get out, get out of my heart!/

So sometime over the past year or so Casey fell in love. Ten to one it’s not Haley, because she’s just as busy as he is promoting singles and scheduling public appearances. Could it be Bianca King, the young actress from The Philippines who was hell bent on meeting Casey during the “American Idol Live” tour? She turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass (see Idyllwild Me post, “Casey’s Expanding Fan Base,” dated Jan. 15, 2012).

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch with Casey banner outside Cafe Aroma. Art by Marcia E. Gawecki.

Why I guessed Bianca is because Casey sings a lot about eating mangoes in a mango tree in “Stuck in London.” Well, mangoes grow naturally in The Philippines, and he was visiting there for a couple of days. But is that long enough to fall in love?

Ira Abrams is careful not to give too much away about his son’s personal life. But he admitted that many young Filipinos are crazy about Casey.

“Did you know they hang banners from buildings with quotes from Casey?” Ira said outside Fairway a few weeks ago. “Some quotes are mundane like ‘I sometimes watch TV.'”

Whether Casey is singing about Bianca is nobody’s business. But it sure makes the song more interesting if we know the juicy details. Remember when “You’re So Vain” was released by Carly Simon in 1972? Well, her self-absorbed lover wasn’t husband James Taylor, but Warren Beatty, the actor from “Shampoo” and “Reds.” (Wikipedia stated there was “much speculation” about three men, including Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte and Warren Beatty).

However, all that speculation may have helped “You’re So Vain” reach no. 72 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time” chart. So, to help boost Casey’s record sales, someone needs to find out if Bianca has eaten mangoes in trees before.

Casey with Caleb Hensinger at an Idyllwild Arts film event.

Probably the only song that Casey didn’t write in this latest album is the tune popularized by Ray Charles. “Hit the Road Jack” is a spanky little duet with Haley Reinhart. You’ve got to admit it, those two have chemistry. He’s classy, and she’s brassy. He growls, and her voice has range.

But he’s a great jazz musician and could actually make it in the movies, if he wanted to. And singing duets with Haley has boosted her popularity since he took her under his wing in “American Idol’s” Season 10.

This is not the first duet for Casey and Haley. So far, they’ve sung “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Moanin,” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

It’s not Casey’s first album either. Casey released “Like a Mirror,” in 2005 and “Oh, You Kid!” in 2010. He probably funded the first two, while Concord is taking credit for this one.

You can purchase all three of Casey’s albums on Amazon. Or you can sample “Oh, You Kid!” on Casey’s web site, www.caseyabrams.com.

“Give him a Grammy already,” said another Casey fan after reviewing his album. “I love every song on this album!”

To preview some of Casey’s hit singles, visit You Tube at www.youtube.com or go directly to Amazon, and buy the album for $9.99.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Banners of Casey Abrams by Marcia E. Gawecki are now on display at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.

 

Photographer Returns for More Mountain ‘Magic’

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

"It's the people who brought me back to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program," said Paula Harding, photographer.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“There’s something magical about this mountain,” said Paula Harding, 20, photographer for the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, when she arrived yesterday. “But it’s the people who brought me back.”

The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program attracts many talented young people from across the country to work as camp counselors, teachers assistants and instructors. Once they work here, they’re likely to return.

This year, some are spending their 5th summer at Idyllwild Arts. This is Paula’s second year.

Famous instructors from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program include Ansel Adams, Bella Lewitsky and Ray Bradbury, who passed away this year.

To get the job originally, Paula got a good recommendation from her high school teacher who also worked as a Summer Program photographer.

“She actually worked here when Emma and Bruce McMenamin were just camp counselors!” Paula said. “She’s so jealous that I get to come back to Idyllwild again this year!”

Tall and stylish with a Southern drawl, Paula is well liked by her fellow campers.

“OMG it’s Paula!” several of them screamed as the van pulled up to her dorm.

From Paula Harding's award-winning 'Abandonment' series

“We just love her!” exclaimed Gigi, a lifeguard last summer, but a camp counselor this year. “She’s a Georgia peach!”

Although Paula is friendly, she does her best to stay “invisible” when she’s working. Her day starts at 8 a.m., and she does the rounds to all of the classes, which can be as many as 15 when summer is in full swing.

After  class time, Paula attends lectures, art shows, plays and musical performances. Oftentimes, her day ends at 8 p.m. She turns her digital photos over to Bruce McMenamin, who crops them and decides where to best use them.

On an average day, Paula shoots 500 photographs. Last summer, she shot a grand total of 40,000 photos.

“Of course, they don’t use them all!” she said, as she was looking over the printed version of the adult class schedule. Bruce had sent her several copies in the mail. “Bruce said that I’m the only one whose shot that many!”

Paula used an old box camera for this photo in her 'Abandonment' series

Paula said that Bruce doesn’t expect her to take that many photographs, but she always wants to put her best foot forward. They both agreed that her photos got increasingly better as the summer went on.

“You just never know with photographs,” Paula said. “You can capture a moment that is special, but you have to take a lot of photos to get there.”

Besides the printed class schedules, Paula’s pictures are featured on the web site, and even in a Family Camp multi-media presentation.

Last year, Paula said the Family Camp slide show was a nail-biter.

“I was uploading photos until the last minute,” she confessed. “I wanted to put in as many current ones as I could.”

The 20-minute show had to be set to music, and minutes before it began, the equipment didn’t work.

It was mostly “operator error,” because she wasn’t familiar with the equipment. But the show went on without a hitch, except one family’s photos were left out.

“This year, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m going to work from a master list of Family Camp members, and check them off as I go. I’d hate for anyone to be left out again!”

“It’s the best job on the mountain,” Paula exclaimed. “I don’t have to go to meetings, and I get to see firsthand what everyone is doing at Idyllwild Arts.”

'Abandonment' series by Paula Harding

You would think that after taking as many as 500 photos a day, Paula would want to do something else in her free time.

“I love taking portraits,” Paula said. “But landscapes are challenging for me. I’d like to take more of Idyllwild. There’s so much natural beauty all around me!”

For the daily shoots, Paula uses the school’s Nikon digital camera, but prefers Canons for her personal use.

“Overall, Canons deliver warmer tones, while Nikon’s colors tend to be cooler,” Paula said.

Although she’s modest about her photographic abilities, Paula has won many awards, in high school and in college, including a recent one for her “Abandonment” series. For those, Paula took pictures of abandoned buildings and people.

Was she referring to the homeless in Atlanta?

“Not exactly,” she said. “You’ll have to look at them and see.”

To view samples of Paula’s work, visit the Idyllwild Arts web site at www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on the Summer Program, and then select the Youth or Adult Course Catalogs. On Flickr (www.flickr.com), Paula won “Best Use of B&W” for the “My Atlanta” photo contest.

Paula also plans to show some of her photographs during the staff art show this summer at the Parks Exhibition Center. She doesn’t have a web site set up yet, but you can reach her at: paulaharding823@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Idyllwild Arts Academy ‘Paints its Wagon’

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts paints its wagon

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Paint Your Wagon,” is more than just a musical or a Clint Eastwood western, it’s good business advice.

In 1920, the founders of Snap-on, a tool company which has grown into a $2.9 billion Fortune 500 enterprise, advised its franchisees to “paint their wagons.” Paint your truck, van or any moving vehicle to help market your products, they said. And if you live in a big city with skyscrapers, paint the top of your vehicle too.

What Snap-on innovators Joseph Johnson and and William Seidemann preached nine decades ago still holds true today. Besides advertisements, social media outlets, and the like, it’s still smart to “paint your wagon.”

To get the word out locally, Idyllwild Arts Academy recently wrapped one of its GMC vans with its marketing message. They got professional help from Monster Media of Riverside.

“We print big!” claims Monster Media’s web site, which is an expert on large format printing. Monster Media received the artwork from a design company working with the academy, and wrapped the van.

'Your child deserves the best art education in the world,' is the message printed next to Paulina

“We can’t take credit for the design,” said Mark from Monster Media. “But we definitely did the wrap.”

Monster Media changed the all-white GMC van into a moving billboard for Idyllwild Arts. Most of it is covered in the school’s signature green showcasing five Idyllwild Arts students.

The images are larger than life, but tell the story of Idyllwild Arts in an instant. There’s Angelo, from Moving Pictures, behind his video camera; Paulina, from Theatre, singing in a red sequinned dress and a plastic wig; Alex from the Music Department, playing his viola; Paul, a fashion designer, building a dress on a mannequin, and visual artist Dean painting at his easel.

Next to Paulina’s image, there’s a message to parents: “Your child deserves the best art education in the world!”

"Can I wash the windows?" asks Raj from the Shell Station in Valle Vista. Monster Media said the wrap should last five years or longer.

When one of the drivers brought the van back from Monster Media, several students cheered and walked around the van, looking at the images.

“Dean doesn’t go to school here anymore,” noted Kevin, another visual artist. “Why did they pick him?”

The wrapped van is a prototype, and images on future vans (if they decide to do more) may change.

A special phone number and web site is listed on the van to help the Marketing Department track the progress.

Although it is certainly colorful on the outside, the inside looks like the other school vans with tinted windows.

Chuck Streeter, who normally drives No. 4, the wrapped van, said it’s no different than from before. The only difference is the attention he gets on the road.

In an instant, people can see what students like Alex do at Idyllwild Arts

“Chuck said that he gets a lot of looks,” said Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation at Idyllwild Arts.

I even drove it around town the other day, and he’s right. It really attracts attention,” Tucker added. “I like the way it looks.”

Tucker even encourages his drivers to park the wrapped van where the public can see it.

During a field trip to Mulligan’s Fun Park in Temecula on Saturday, June 16, driver Wayne Parker, noticed that a family was gathering around the school van, admiring it. The mother was putting the contact information into her cell phone.

“That’s what we like to see,” Wayne said.

Raj, a worker at the Shell Station in Valle Vista, where Idyllwild Arts fills up, smiled broadly at the new wrap.

“That is really something,” he said, as he grabbed his squeegee to wash the front window.

“Is it OK to wash it?” Raj asked.

Mark from Monster Media said that the wrap should last five years or longer. He advised to wash the van as normal, even adding wax.

Paul, a fashion design major, dresses a mannequin.

“Just watch the seams,” said one of the Monster Media workers, as he sat eating his lunch. He and the others had put the wrap on the Idyllwild Arts van in one day.

The only thing that may wear out first is the words on the hood, Mark said.

“You see, the sun is beating down on the hood, and there’s also heat coming up from the engine,” Mark said.

“Idyllwild Arts” is printed on the hood in reverse letters.

“We put it in reverse, so that drivers can see it clearly in their rear view mirrors,” Mark explained. “That’s how ambulances do it.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

A View of the Highland Fire from Hemet

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Smoke from the Highland Fire reached Hemet

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At the Target shopping center in Hemet, people were talking excitedly in groups, looking up at the smoke coming from the Highland Fire which began Saturday night, June 16.

According to news reports, the Highland Fire, which is beyond the Banning side of the mountain in Beaumont, reached 2,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., and was 10 percent contained.

An air tanker flew onto Hemet Field, which was on the other side of the Target store.

“I’ve seen the air tanker come in and land three times,” said Wayne Parker, an Idyllwild Arts van driver.

He had been there for about 20 minutes, waiting on ESL students to come out of Target.

“There must be water tanks with hoses on Hemet Field,” Wayne said. “But I can’t see over the store, which is blocking my view.”

The tanker took off and headed back towards the fire. Red and orange flames could be seen from the distance.

“The tanker’s doing a number on that fire,” Wayne added. “It’ll probably be contained by the time we reach Idyllwild.”

This crew from Mountain Center had just returned from fighting a blaze in Palm Springs

The ESL students, from China and Korea, were on their way home from a field trip to a fun park in Temecula. They were concerned about the smoke, but when they got to Hemet, they could see that the fire was a long distance from Idyllwild and relaxed a bit.

“I’m not afraid,” said William, an ESL student from China who is studying film.

Currently, nine of them are taking makeup classes at the academy for 8 weeks. However, today was a fun day, away from their studies.

Charles Schlacks, an Idyllwild resident, who returned from a film event in Orange, said the smoke from the Highland fire could be seen as far as Riverside.

“I was on the 215, and could see the smoke from there,” Charles said.

Wind was a big factor in other blazes around Idyllwild Saturday night.

At the Shell Station in Valle Vista, a fire crew from Mountain Center (BDF 56) was filling up and cleaning their windows. They looked tired, but said they weren’t returning from the Highland Blaze.

The brush fire they had been battling in Palm Springs was about five acres.

“Wind was a big factor today,” said one of the firefighters.

When asked about the Highland Fire, the firefighter said they had heard about it, but didn’t know why they hadn’t been called to assist.

“Maybe we’ll be called later on,” he said, as he put away the squeegee.

According to news reports, as many as 300 firefighters are are battling the blaze, including ground crews, helicopters and air tankers.

He laughed when someone asked if the Highland Blaze would be contained soon.

Smoke caused a haze over the setting sun. Mountain view of Hemet. Photo by William Liu.

“Not likely,” he said.

Driving up the hill towards Idyllwild, the smoke was casting an eerie haze over the setting sun. Several motorists had pulled over in one of the pullouts to take pictures.

Firefighters are expected to work though the night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

UCLA Bruins Head for College World Series

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

A fan mugs it up in front of the UCLA bruin on campus

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s too bad that the LA Times doesn’t cover college baseball.

The UCLA Bruins have made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, and if they win tonight, they’re headed for the College World Series.

So Bruins fans are forced to follow their team by other means, such as streaming on UCLA’s web site (www.uclabruins.com) or Bruins Nation, a blog site that’s manic about all UCLA sports (www.bruinsnation.com). And since the Bruins have made it this far, tickets are hard to come by. Forget finding them  on eBay.

So that left one Bruins fan from Idyllwild with only one thing left to do: Go to the game and stand outside the fence.

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe Internet (and a UCLA Chemistry major), went to the Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium in Westwood. Since 1981, UCLA has called Jackie Robinson its home stadium.

“It was the best time I’ve had all year,” exclaimed Jeffrey. “The place was packed, and everyone I met was talking UCLA baseball. There was a definite electricity in the air.”

UCLA Bruins fan Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Monster art by Marcia Gawecki

Since Jackie Robinson Stadium, with only 1500 seats, is located on the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration, many of the fans at Friday’s game against TCU were military veterans.

“I think Jackie Robinson must’ve made it a provision that veterans get tickets to see the games,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey took his camcorder along with him and captured the game. But he also got some candid interviews with veterans he met standing outside the fence.

Jeffrey plans to post the interviews on his Green Cafe web site (www.greencafe.com), and show before his Movie Night on Friday at 7 p.m. in Idyllwild.

“I fought in Vietnam, and was proud to serve my country,” one vet said. “Now I have cancer, but I’m not down about it. I just take it day by day”

Then he broke into a wide smile and said, “But tomorrow, I got a ticket to the game!”

Jeffrey met another veteran who has been a Bruins baseball fan for years. Even before the team was hot, he would watch them every Tuesday night.

UCLA campus

“It used to be that you could get any seat in the stadium,” he said. “Now, it’s not so easy.”

As Bruins baseball fans, the lack of tickets didn’t matter. They came to see the game.

“I could have paid $25 to stand behind Center Field looking through a peep hole,” Jeffrey said, but he found a better place standing with about 25 others on the grass looking over Home Plate.

LA police officers would drive by occasionally, calling out for scores, and cheering when they were ahead. Jeffrey, who was double parked, only got a smile from one of the officers who asked about his truck.

“I just wanted to see the game,” Jeffrey said, avoiding a ticket.

He met several others, including professors and former college baseball players, all hanging outside the fence.

“Their play-by-play was better than any announcer,” Jeffrey said, marveling at how much the fans knew about the players and the game.

“They were using terms that I didn’t even know of,” he added.

Dennis Wohlman, the uncle of Bruins outfielder, Beau Amaral, lives in Idyllwild, so Jeffrey took a video of Beau at bat.

“Beau got out, but his hits allowed another player to steal second,” Jeffrey said.

The Bruins beat TCU 6-2.

Before the Bruins made it to the Super Regionals, the only way Dennis could have watched his nephew play was to go to the game and watch outside the fence like Jeffrey did. But now, the Super Regionals are televised.

“Just our rotten luck, the Bruins are playing tonight, opposite the Stanley Cup Finals,” Jeffrey said with a groan.

Yet, the LA Times has covered all of those hockey games.

If the UCLA Bruins win tonight against TCU, then they’ll go to the College World Series in Omaha. If not, then they play again on Sunday.

“Next to Cornhusker home games, the College World Series is one of the biggest events of the year in Omaha,” said Jeffrey.

Of course, College World Series tickets are impossible to get too. But, the games will likely be televised. And the daily newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, will cover the games. So UCLA Bruins fans can follow their team to victory across the country.

However, if the LA Times had covered Bruins baseball, then maybe Jeffrey would not have made it to the game. He would have missed the camaraderie and a chance to clear his head from business for one afternoon.

“After the game, we were all best buddies, cheering and giving High Fives,” Jeffrey said. “No one wanted to leave. They just wanted to linger for awhile.”

But he’ll likely get season tickets for Bruins baseball next year.

“Where else can you watch a game for under $10, and with hot dogs only costing a buck,” Jeffrey said.

Bruins vs. TCU at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 tonight.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Abandoned Graffitied Van Was Stolen

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The abandoned van in Valle Vista turned out to be stolen

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Not often when you report an abandoned vehicle to the police, do you get to hear the end of the story.

In this case, the white Ford van was stolen. It now sits parked outside Idyllwild Garage, waiting on the insurance company to make its report before returning it to its owners.

However, in my attempt to be a good citizen, I may have implicated myself in the crime. You see, my fingerprints are all over the driver’s side handle.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed the white van parked in the pullout near Valle Vista. It’s a popular pullout because it’s close to the bridge and the creek, and oftentimes people go there in the summer to cool off.

Days later, I was going down the hill again and noticed the same van parked there. This time, I was concerned. Mostly because it was after the weekend, and it hadn’t moved.

Was the guy on an extended fishing trip, or did something happen to him?

In my short stint as a newspaper reporter (Idyllwild crime was my beat), I learned to notice inconsistencies. I once called a sheriff’s deputy about an abandoned truck in Valle Vista. (My editor thought it may have been associated with illegal dumping at the time). As it turned out, the truck’s owner was an out-of-work musician who hung himself in a nearby tree. He had even left a note in the truck.

The police blotter only mentioned the abandoned vehicle.

So knowing that, I got the license plate number and the number of the nearby mile marker, and reported the abandoned van to the police. They took down my information, and said they’d send an officer out to investigate.

I laughed with the dispatch operator about the driver being on a long fishing trip. I didn’t mention any hunches about dead bodies.

Three days later, I passed the same van again, but this time it had graffiti tagged all over it. On one side, they used profanity. It was no longer a nuisance vehicle, but an eyesore. I called the police again.

But this time, they directed me to Code Enforcement. I guess any abandoned vehicle that had been damaged, was now their problem. I gave the same story, and the officer said he’d open a file and get right on it.

Same van turned up at Idyllwild Garage

On May 21, I got tired of waiting on the police to tow the vehicle, and stopped to take pictures. It had “Infamous” written on the hood and rear.

Thinking about the abandoned vehicle/suicide in Valle Vista, I tried the door handle. After all, there could be a dead body inside.

It opened.

Inside, the van smelled of cigarette smoke, and the ashtray was overflowing with butts. There were clothes all over the back from a laundry basket.  The graffiti taggers must’ve rummaged through them looking for money or valuables. However, they overlooked a Gucci makeup bag.

I was glad that there was no corpses, or anyone hurt inside.

I tried to take a picture of the inside, for what reason I don’t know, but my flash didn’t go off. My camera said that I needed to replace the batteries.

“Just as well,” I thought to myself. “There’s no body, or anyone who needs my help, so now I’m trespassing.”

That was the end of the story, until today when I saw the van parked outside Idyllwild Garage.

My fingerprints were left on the door handle

I spoke to one of the mechanics, telling my good citizen story.

“Funny that it would end up here in Idyllwild,” I said.

“It was stolen,” he said. “The insurance company is on its way over to investigate.”

The owners were not from Idyllwild, he added.

Then I started to sweat. My fingerprints were left on the door handle. Should I turn myself in, and confess nosiness? Are my fingerprints impeding the sheriff’s investigation?

I decided to lay low and wait until the police come to me. Surely, they have records of me reporting the abandoned vehicle twice in one week. When you report anything to the police, you always have to give your name and phone number.

But I’m worried that I’ll get busted for stealing the van.  I’ve seen too many Film Noir movies to know that anyone’s luck can change on a dime. A good deed can land you in the clinker, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Student Films Target All Kinds of Love

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts alum, Gabe Harshman, acted in "Love Without End"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

All five shorts shown at the Student Film Screenings on Saturday, May 26, were about love.

They involved different themes, including a zombie apocalypse, teen angst, separation and death, gay marriage and restoring eyesight to Ethiopians. But the overall premise was about love — of self, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your spouse and your fellow man.

By the packed house (for the second night in a row) and the standing ovation at the end, the audience loved them all. Even a few tears were shed.

“Get ready to cry!” exclaimed Shanna, a visual art student, after intermission. “The next one is really sad.”

She was right. “Love Without End,” written and directed by Rosey, was a story about love and loss. It was produced by Harald, edited by Minori and filmed by Cyrus.

“No matter what kind of love you have, it never ends,” said Rosey, as she stood at the podium introducing her short film. By the dramatic pauses in her brief speech, it appeared that the film could be autobiographical.

"Life After Death" was more than just a zombie apocalypse movie

“Love Without End” featured two strangers sitting on a bus headed for a special stargazing place in the mountains. Richard, played by Gabe Harshman, an Idyllwild Arts theater alum, lost his wife to illness, while Jason, played by Jared Billings (a film teacher), never found his sister after his parents died and different families adopted them.

The two standouts in the movie were local youngsters, Brighton Dahleen, who played Jason at age 8, and Jennie, played by Elsie Fisher, from the Universal Studios computer animated film, “Despicable Me.”

“It just tore my heart out to see them separated,” Shanna said.

Gabe also got a callout in the thank you credits. He is best known as the louse with the powdered wig in “Learned Ladies.” While at Idyllwild Arts, Gabe also played in the “Laramie Project” and the “Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Now, after two years at Roosevelt in Chicago, he’s living in Los Angeles and taking improv classes with Gary Austin, founder of “The Groundlings.”

He’s also friends with Idyllwild Arts film alumni, Nick Caine and Sean Stromsoe, who helped edit the films.

“Gabe was great to work with,” exclaimed Lujie one of the crew. “He worked with us until midnight and never complained.”

If you look closely at the way that “Love Never Ends” was shot, the two men who play the leads were never face-to-face, but side-by-side (on the bus, on the rock). That’s because Gabe’s part was shot first, weeks before Jared’s part, that was added later.

“I take pride in taking direction,” Gabe said earlier. “I’m an actor, not a director or producer, whose job is to look at the big picture.”

He said it was great coming back to the natural surroundings of Idyllwild after living in LA.

“It was really peaceful looking up at the stars,” Gabe said. “I miss that.”

Film crew unloads on location in Idyllwild

For the first film shown Saturday night, “Life After Death,” was more about the love between a sister and brother, than a zombie apocalypse. It was written and directed by Armani, a sophomore film major. In his introduction, he keenly noted that not many sophomores got their films “green lit.” He thanked his leading actor, Quincy, for making the most of her big sister role. Armani also thanked his real-life sister for her inspiration and his mother for her loyalty.

“This film is dedicated to my mother,” Armani said. “For believing in me, even when I turned into a zombie.”

He also said that he was inspired by a book that featured zombies that were not just cold-blooded killers, but still showed signs of humanity.

The action-packed zombie short, featured realistic makeup on the battle beleagured Quincy and her boyfriend, Eric. In an instant, she left  her 5-year-old brother alone to go out with Eric. (In hindsight, it may not have made a big difference if she was home because the zombies were taking over the world).

The movie makes good use of TV news announcements and voice mail messages to convey the seriousness of the zombie apocalypse. In most of the scenes, Eric wielded a semi-automatic rifle, to fend off zombies, coming close to getting bit once.

When he shot one zombie in an abandoned home, the bloodstain left on the wall was digitally enhanced.

(from L) Juwan sings to Jared, as Caleb plays at the 2011 screenings. This year, Jared acted in "Love Without End."

In his opening remarks to “Life After Death,” Jared said that the special effects company has agreed to work with Idyllwild Arts students again next year.

“That says a lot about the professionalism of our film students,” Jared said.

“The Wingman,” a coming-of-age comedy, features two Idyllwild Arts alumni in the leading roles, Connor Farwell and Russell Bomgardner. It was written and co-directed by Gabby and her brother, Angelo.

“As a former theater major, I thought I’d escape acting,” confessed Gabby, in her opening remarks. “But then, I’m in the film, so Angelo directed me.”

“Wingman” was produced by Alyssa, edited by Paris, Alex and Gabby. It’s about Jace, played by Russell (Shortcomings) who is bullied by the overbearing Payton, until a tragedy happend. Connor is still self-absorbed, but Russell has changed. Gabby, as the angel that only Russell can see, helps him find his backbone and realize his true merits.

“We think Angelo is awesome,” exclaimed Ira Abrams, in his opening remarks.

As cinematographer, Angelo captured Idyllwild’s natural beauty, including scenes from Lake Fulmor, and meadows near the state park.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts alum, Russell Bombgardner (shown with Kathryn) plays the sidekick in "Wingman"

The “Assosa Eye Clinic” documentary, also showcased the talents of Idyllwild Arts alumni, Sean Stromsoe (film) and Charles Haysbert (theater). It showed the efforts of Dr. Samuel, the only physician for 200,000 people, and the Tropical Health Alliance, to help restore eyesight to cataract patients in Ethiopia.

Though mostly visuals and little dialogue, Sean and Charles tell a heart-warming tale about a father and son. Through cataract surgery, sight in one of the father’s eyes is restored.

“I can see you!” the father exclaimed as his bandages were removed. “This is my joy to see my son again. Thank God.”

“Perfect,” a 3-minute short-short, was written and produced by Anna, just days before the weekend film screenings. It featured a love-struck girl musing about her prom date. Then reality strikes when his mom drives them to the dance.

The final film of the evening took on a political tone. “A Family Like Mine,” is a documentary about children growing up with same-sex parents. It was written by Katherine, or Tia, whose single dad is gay. It was produced by Tirzah, filmed by Alex, and edited by Moira.

President Obama portrait by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Recently, President Obama has supported legislation that allows same sex couples to marry. It is landmark legislation and a big risk for an incumbent president, yet opposed by the religious right.

“When I came to Idyllwild Arts, I was surprised to learn how many people grew up like me,” Tia said.

In her film, several instructors from Idyllwild Arts told their perspective of gay families, including Shambo Carpenter, a philosophy teacher, and Melissa Wilson, an animation teacher. Also, the wife of Daniel Gray, who was pregnant at the time.

They spoke of confusion, pain and isolation growing up as children of gay couples.

“My brother and I decided once that we weren’t going to listen to or associate with people who didn’t understand our family,” said Shambo, who has two mothers.

Tia, whose father is gay, didn’t know the term until she was nine years old when another child told her.

Her father described how his own mother sent him to a psychiatrist when he was young, to see if he was gay.

"Gabe was great to work with," exclaimed Lujie.

“They put me in a room with all kinds of toys. I bypassed all the cowboy guns and went straight for the dolls,” Tia’s father recalled. “When my mother asked the doctor if I was gay, he said, ‘Regardless if he’s gay or not, he’s going to be a father.”

“A Family Like Mine,” showed Tia growing up, riding bikes and drawing with her dad. Tia is African-American, and her father is white.

“People on the street used to ask me where I got this child, and if I took her from someone,” Tia’s dad said. “I used to tell them that I was babysitting for Diana Ross.”

Through a multitude of conversations with gay parents, children of gay parents, priests and news clippings of the opposition, “A Family Like Mine” will help give an insider’s perspective to the same-sex marriage debate.

“People don’t realize that when they are attacking same-sex couples, they are also attacking the children of those families,” Tia said “People like me.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Student Film Screenings Tonight & Saturday

Friday, May 25th, 2012

A zombie screams

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Zombies and pilots are among the themes for this year’s Student Film Screenings held tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The much-anticipated event is free and open to the public.

Part of the zombie movie was shot next door to me in Idyllwild. I volunteered my neighbor’s house because frankly, my kitchen was a mess.

Maurice Mysenburg’s home was perfect because it was unoccupied (he lives in La Habra), it had a small Sherwood Forest in the back yard, and dark wood paneling throughout.

The script called for one actor to shoot a zombie dead against the wood paneling in the bedroom.

“I wonder if the blood will leave a stain?” asked Isaac, head of the Film Department.

Isaac and Gerald decided they needed to match the wood paneling so they could use it as an overlay. (I’m sure my neighbor, Maurice, wouldn’t want to live with zombie blood above his headboard.) As it turned out, however, they created the blood stain in post-production.

The film crew unloads all of the equipment

Outside, the film crew was unloading the lights, camera and equipment. I was just sorry that I wasn’t going to be around to watch them shoot the zombie film, “Life After Death.”

Before I left, one of the students asked to use my garden hose. I imagined that he needed it to fill up a fog machine or something.

As it turns out, he needed to hose down a zombie.

She had platinum blonde hair, and caked blood all over her face. She was a gruesome sight. And she stood there screaming. Why the zombie needed to be wet and miserable was unknown.

A zombie in full makeup

The zombie film was written by Armani, a sophomore film student at Idyllwild Arts, who insists that it’s got a decent storyline.

“It’s about a guy who convinces a girl to leave her 5-year-old brother at home so that she can go out with him,” Armani explained.

(See ‘Zombie Teen Flick” Idyllwild Me post dated April 10).

“‘It’s more about the story between the sister and brother,” Armani said.

Armani said that “Life After Death” is not autobiographical.

“My sisters didn’t leave me home alone until I was 10,” he said.

Most of the other short films, including “Wing Man” were shot in and around Idyllwild. Those who come to the Student Film Screenings tonight and Saturday night will notice many local sites.

Like all Idyllwild Arts events, the event is free and open to the public. But come early to get a good seat. For more information, contact (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.