AUDIO




If an earthquake hits, are you ready?

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Oct 18, 2018

Los Angeles is one of the most disaster-prone cities in the world, vulnerable to earthquakes, fires and many other disasters. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Community Emergency Response Training, or CERT, started here. Take Two contributor Adrianna Cargill participates in one neighborhood training.

CERT trainees find earthquake victims and bring them to safety and medical help at the makeshift triage center. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

CERT trainees find earthquake victims and bring them to safety and medical help at the makeshift triage center. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill


SANTA BARBARA HAS AN UNUSUALLY HIGH PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE WINEMAKERS

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Sept 14, 2018

September is wine month here in California. The state is home to more than half of the nation's wineries. And in Santa Barbara County, women are playing a growing role. The area has a disproportionately high number of female winemakers.

Karen Steinwachs checks grapes to see if they are ready to harvest at the Buttonwood Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, CA. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Karen Steinwachs checks grapes to see if they are ready to harvest at the Buttonwood Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, CA. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen to full Take Two Episode here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2018/09/14/18920/



One amusement park tries the smaller is better approach

Published by: Marketplace Morning Report, Marketplace by APM

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Sept 5, 2018

Giant theme parks often compete for visitors with ever bigger attractions and wilder rides. But in California, one amusement company thinks smaller is better. Two Bit Circus is trying to reinvent old-fashioned carnivals by opening a so-called "micro-amusement park." The 50,000 square foot park can fit up to 700 visitors. It's a gamble in a time when many traditional circuses and family fun centers are struggling or closing. Two Bit is betting its mash-up of classic carnival fun, new tech, and interactivity will appeal to today's consumers. 

This "robotic bartender" is one of the several attractions at Two Bit Circus, a place that's trying to reinvent the feel of old-fashioned carnivals ... but with a touch of the digital age. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

This "robotic bartender" is one of the several attractions at Two Bit Circus, a place that's trying to reinvent the feel of old-fashioned carnivals ... but with a touch of the digital age. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill


VENICE BRIDGE HOUSING

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Aug 27, 2018

Earlier this spring, Koreatown was torn apart over the issue of homeless housing. Specifically, where the site of Mayor Garcetti’s new bridge housing would go —those temporary emergency shelters being proposed for each city council district K-Town residents felt their concerns were being ignored and that the city wasn’t being transparent about its intentions. Well, fast forward a few months and that SAME tension over the SAME idea is playing out in the community of Venice. So, to get a better sense of how things are playing out so far, we sent Take Two contributor Adriana Cargill to a recent community meeting.

Homeless encampments on the along the boardwalk in Venice, CA. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Homeless encampments on the along the boardwalk in Venice, CA. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill


Meet an artist who paints with fire

Published by: The Frame, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Jan 4, 2018

Zachary Aronson works on a portrait of Tazi Apple on the Venice Boardwalk. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Zachary Aronson works on a portrait of Tazi Apple on the Venice Boardwalk. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2018/01/04/60835/meet-an-artist-who-paints-with-fire-on-the-venice/

Zach Aronson might be the only artist in the world who paints with blowtorches.

He came up with the idea for his pyrography (writing with fire) several years ago when he was a student at CalArts. One day he forgot to bring paper to class and, after wandering around for a while, found a piece of wood. He did a charcoal drawing of eyes on it and really liked the way it looked, so he continued to use wood. He experimented with different media, like fire and pencils, but then at some point he starting working only with fire.

"My favorite thing about working with fire is the idea of using a traditionally destructive element to make something new and beautiful," said Aronson.

Aronson uses sandpaper to create different tones, but his main tools are two blowtorches:

"If I have a blowtorch, the hottest point is the tip, the blue part of the flame that’ll burn the fastest. But if I hold the torch even closer to the wood, that flame splits into two parallel fine lines, which are very useful for doing detail work like strands of hair or eyelashes."

His work resonated with many passerbys on the Venice Boardwalk. From a distance they really look like charcoal drawings. The paintings are so huge that it’s hard not to stop and stare. He’s got seven birch plywood panels he’s painting on that are eight-feet tall by two-feet wide

Aronson has done some mural work, installations and theater set design, but most of his income comes from commissioned portraits. Prices for his work can go from $150 to over $7,000, depending on size.

He also creates work at events such as art walks, private galas and parties. A hallmark of his process is that he only works with live models. He loves interacting with his subjects and feeds off the energy of the crowds that gather to watch him.

"I actually sometimes feel more stressed working when no one's there … that energy, that excitement that builds up [at an event] inspires me," said Aronson.

Miraculously, during all those live events, Aronson says he’s never burned himself nor started a fire.  He insists his technique is totally safe:

"I've done many art walks and festivals and live events with hundreds of people and frequently have had fire marshals come up to me but, once they see my technique, no one's ever had an issue with me doing that."

Wood selection is key to Aronson’s process. He uses redwood, white oak, birch and pine. Each has distinct qualities. After selecting a type of wood, he then chooses each individual piece for the particular wood grain itself. Oftentimes he works that natural texture into the composition of his piece.

"I sort of think of my process as a collaboration with nature. I’ve always considered my pyrographs half-finished before I’ve begun just looking at the wood grain," said Aronson.

Aronson wasn’t a pyromaniac growing up. For him it’s not about the wow! factor or the cool edginess of fire. In fact, he’s a really calm, quiet kind of person, totally opposite from the fire breathers and eccentric circus acts you normally think of who work with flames.

"I don't work with fire because I love watching things burn. I think of my process as repurposing fire, [which] gets a bad rap. Honestly, everyone talks about it burning me or setting fires or whatnot and I just think it's beautiful … if used properly," said Aronson. 

For more on Aronson's work, check out his website.  

 


Do theaters still need marquees in the digital age?

Published by: The Frame, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Dec 15, 2017

Workers putting the final touches on Antaeus Theatre’s marquee. Photo credit: Ana Rose O'Halloran

Workers putting the final touches on Antaeus Theatre’s marquee. Photo credit: Ana Rose O'Halloran

Listen Here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2017/12/15/60038/do-theaters-still-need-marquees-in-the-digital-age/

When the Antaeus Theatre Company debuted its new space in Glendale, the marquee was not yet installed. At first glance you might think a marquee isn’t important anymore — you can just Google where the theater is and GPS how to get there. But Bill Brochtrup, one of Antaeus’s artistic directors, thinks differently:

“From the beginning, we knew a marquee was an important part of the design of the building because we are in downtown Glendale, We need people to know that we’re here … that we've arrived, that we are not going anywhere and we’ll be part of this landscape for long time. A marquee says that.”

Antaeus Theatre is a nondescript sandy colored building, sandwiched in between a Marshalls and a mall on a busy strip of E. Broadway.  A quick survey of people on the street revealed that no one knew it was a theater. Without a marquee, it just looked like an office building to them.

Escott Norton, executive director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, says marquees are crucial to theater design:

“The show begins when you're walking down the street and you see this beautiful thing and you want to get drawn into it.”
 

Norton is referring to a famous quote from S. Charles Lee, one of L.A.’s most prolific theater architects: "The show starts on the sidewalk." Architects such as Lee designed movies theaters and their marquees to catch people’s attention and make them want to enter a world of fantasy. Think about the the Mayan Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre — the very design of these buildings seeks to transport patrons to a far of land.

Marquees are often the first thing people notice at a theater, and their design has changed a lot over time. These ubiquitous symbols of showbiz tell us a lot more than just who’s preforming on a given night. Their design often reflects the ethos of the theater itself, and the cultural, social and political history of Los Angeles when it was built.

In the 1910s, theater builders looked to Europe for inspiration and tried to evoke the luxury and opulence of places like the Paris Opera or Versailles. Marquees of this era were mainly focused on competing with each other to lure in pedestrians. Marquee letters were smaller, with white letters on black backgrounds easily read by people walking by. Also, they were more like rectangular awnings than the marquees we know today.

In the 1920s and '30s, a truly American style that Norton calls "Hollywood Fantasy" appears on the scene. Theaters were inspired by the most "exotic" events of the era, such as the discovery of King Tut's tomb and the opening of China. These were direct inspirations for the Egyptian Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese.

During the Great Depression, fantasy was replaced by function. Economic recession, and the culture of excess that was responsible for it, pushed American designers to move away from opulence. Streamline Moderne marquees were much simpler and had fewer words and bigger letters — often just the name of the theatre itself. Then, car culture became the single biggest driver of marquee design for the next half century.

World War II brought a shortage of materials. The theaters of the post-war years were mainly made of glass and concrete, which were the only materials readily available during the war and in the decade or so that followed. Marquees got even bigger so they could be seen from Eisenhower’s newly built freeway system.

How does this history influence how marquees are designed today? Antaeus’ marquee was finally installed this fall, but to understand its design you need some background on the company. It’s a collective of actors, many of whom work in film and TV. They formed Antaeus so they could do the kind of a classical theater they originally fell in love with.  They do old plays in new ways and are exploring doing new plays with classic themes.

As for their marquee: it’s got a black background, with white letters, like the classic theaters of the 1910s. But it’s a trapezoid shape with big letters that can be read from a car driving by. A blend of old and new, just like Antaeus. Function and simplicity were two main factors that shaped their design committee decisions.

Now that the theater has a marquee, a quick survey of people on the street showed that most recognized the building as a performing arts center. It seems even if we don’t need marquees to tell us what’s playing, we still need them to pick theaters out from the urban landscape.  In the Internet age, the show still starts on the sidewalk.

 



29Rooms debuts in downtown LA with musical punching bags and more

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Dec 8, 2017

Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29, takes aim at a musical punching bag in the Future is Female room. Created in collaboration with musician Madame Gandhi and Jen Mussari, the punching bags are covered in lyrics from Gandhi's songs. When visitors punch them, it triggers different sounds. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Piera Gelardi, executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29, takes aim at a musical punching bag in the Future is Female room. Created in collaboration with musician Madame Gandhi and Jen Mussari, the punching bags are covered in lyrics from Gandhi's songs. When visitors punch them, it triggers different sounds. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen Here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2017/12/08/60576/29rooms-debuts-in-downtown-la-with-musical-punchin/

Piera Gelardi put on boxing gloves and took aim.

She landed a first punch, then another, each hit creating a sound. These musical punching bags are part of the Future is Female room at the new 29Rooms pop-up art house opening in downtown L.A. this weekend.  The more people hit the bags, the more this cacophony sounds like a symphony.

“You're basically transforming your aggression and your energy into music,” Gelardi said. She’s the executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29, the company behind this playful event.  “When you go in there and you kinda punch it out, you come out feeling really different and we like that. We really want to create transformative experiences.”

Refinery29 is a media company based in New York that focuses on young women. They publish online and put on live events about style, culture and health. It’s all designed to empower women, celebrate their individuality and promote an inclusive and diverse idea of beauty;  29Rooms is the group's L.A. debut, and 25% of its artists are based here.

“We're really excited to be in L.A. because we feel that L.A. right now is having such a strong gravitational pull. It’s such a rich creative community with all these different industries converging of art, music, Hollywood, technology and media, so it seems like the perfect grounds for an event that's all about that mash-up,” Gelardi said.

The 29Rooms exhibit is certainly a mash-up. Each one of the individually curated rooms has its own narrative that pairs different art forms like music and painting with immersive or interactive experiences. Its roster of creators is also a mash-up. Celebrities rub shoulders alongside brands and non-profits. Janelle Monae’s room challenges visitors to  examine surveillance in our culture as they walk through a disco of mannequins with TV heads that are watching them.

Demi Lovato’s room invites participants to get empowering temporary tattoos that mimic the pop star's own ink. These rooms are next to Google’s, which consists of an adult playground that people can climb all over. Directly in front of it is Planned Parenthood’s neon jungle gym of birth control pills and IUDS.

Many of these spaces blend technology, art, sculpture and music to create unusual sensory experiences like Maisie Cousins’ Erotica in Bloom room. The room is delineated by a thick wall of hanging flowers, and inside it’s filled with more hanging flowers and a few person-sized orchid pods. Visitors stick their head inside one of the flowers to see and hear PG-rated erotic video art.

Sounds pretty strange, right? Unusual interactive experience is what 29Rooms is all about. There's rooms where guests can paint lanterns, dance, recycle books and write letters to express their opinions to their government representatives.

There’s even a replica of a high school bathroom by Emmy-winning director Jill Soloway of "Transparent" and artist Xavier Schipani. Participants can sit on the toilet and listen through headphones to first-person accounts of gender awareness.

29Rooms has been running in New York for three years now. This year’s theme in LA "turn it into art" was inspired by the famous Carrie Fisher quote, “Take that broken heart and turn it art.” It was also inspired by audience feedback. Refinery29 fans skew progressive, female, millennial or Gen Z,  and a lot of them are frustrated by the current social climate.

“We were thinking about the ways that art can heal…how it can incite new conversations, how it can catalyze people into action, and so we wanted to explore that in the space,” Gelardi said.

Gelardi hopes the exhibit will highlight the different ways people can be transformed by art. Lately, a lot of immersive spaces in L.A. have been accused of being more about Instagram than thought-provoking art, but Gelardi isn't really worried about that.

“We're not trying to create MoMA; we're trying to create something new that is joyful, playful, fun and where people can actually experience art in a way that they're ready to consume. We want to create a space that is healing for people, where they walk away feeling transformed, where they walk away feeling a sense of possibility, positivity,” Gelardi said.

Whether people walk away from 29Rooms with a sense of positivity remains to be seen, but there is clearly a demand for pop-up installations like 29Rooms.  It sold out in just 24 hours. Refinery29 said it’s exploring plans to expand with more LA events in the future. 

 


Downtown LA is invaded by Martians in War of the Worlds revamp

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Nov 14, 2017

Before the  War of the World  performance started a nervous TV reporter named Hector G. Wallace paced back and forth in front of a pile of debris supposedly caused by one of the mysterious explosions. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Before the War of the World performance started a nervous TV reporter named Hector G. Wallace paced back and forth in front of a pile of debris supposedly caused by one of the mysterious explosions. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2017/11/14/60205/downtown-la-is-invaded-by-martians-in-war-of-the-w/

Loud explosions. Green flashes over the sky of Los Angeles. Matching explosions on the surface of Mars. Nobody knew what was going on or who was behind it.

If you were on the corner of Winston and Main Streets in downtown this weekend, that’s what you would have heard come from a very frantic-looking man. He was dressed as a TV reporter and talking to a camera. But he was also standing on a stage in a parking lot surrounded by a set made to look like city rubble. People were watching in white folding chairs as music from Walt Disney Concert Hall streamed out of nearby speakers.

The TV media van the performers would enter and come out of. A military general, the secretary of state, reporters and eyewitnesses all streamed in and out of the van during the performance. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

This scene was very confusing to people passing by. No one seemed to have any idea what was going on. As the story developed, the audience and people walking by heard that aliens from the planet Mars were attacking downtown Los Angeles.

What exactly was going on?

A crowd watched actors who played reporter Hector G. Wallace of WOTW TV and Dr. Melissa Morse, KCRW’s head meteorologist. They asked an eyewitness questions about the mysterious explosions and flashes of green light. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

The music and actors were part of the LA Phil’s modern take on the classic radio drama, The War of the Worlds.  The performance wa directed by Yuval Sharon, composed by Annie Gosfield and conducted by Chris Rountree. Sigourney Weaver narrated the performance and was continually interrupting the concert with news bulletins about the developing situation.

People on the street didn’t seem to pay much attention to the performance until the ‘aliens’ were broadcast from a yellow decommissioned cold war siren on the street. Sharon came up with the idea to use the sirens after a city official approached him and said there were more than 200 sirens across Los Angeles that he might consider using in a piece someday.

The yellow decommissioned cold war era siren on the corner of Winston and Main streets in downtown Los Angeles. Performances from the Walt Disney Concert Hall were broadcast from this siren and others across the downtown. The music was composed by Annie Gosfield. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

The sound coming from them was crackly but clear enough that it turned heads on the street.  People walking by stopped in their tracks, took out their smartphones and started snapping photos and looking very, very confused. When the director Yuval Sharon created this piece, he as hoping for just this kind of reaction. 

I'm actually hoping that no one will be fooled by this piece ….I would love everybody to say, 'Wow they're creating this kind of manipulative structure of this piece that's trying to fool me. Why are they doing this and what is this telling me about my everyday life? And how does it relate to our current political reality?

The War of the Worlds was first broadcast in 1938 as a radio drama about aliens from Mars invading the US, except the people listening back then thought it was real and it caused a panic. In this War of the Worlds rendition, no one had the complete picture. The audience in Walt Disney Concert Hall couldn't see the reporters at the sirens…and the reporters couldn't see the audience in Disney Hall.

So how did anybody know if it was real or fake? Just like the listeners of the original broadcast, many of the people walking by on the street didn’t have the context to understand what they were seeing and hearing, which was part of Yuval’s intention.

Passerby’s stopped to check out the War of the Worlds performance on Nov 12, 2017. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

There’s a cameo by a 20-foot tall alien puppet, which is obviously a prop, but there's also an appearance by the real L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti:

Please do not attempt to leave this building. Just outside these walls is utter chaos...and if you're listening outside, find a stick, find a broom to defend yourselves and our way of life here in Los Angeles.

One of the aliens that invaded downtown as part of the War of the Worlds performance put on by the LA Phil and the Industry, a new opera company in collaboration with Now Art LA. The alien and set were designed by Calder Greenwood. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Sharon said when he creates he doesn't think about what the audience will get out of it, but with his reenactment of The War of the Worlds, he was a little bit more explicit:

“So if one organ of information like the news is being manipulated in brazen ways… in ways that are so obvious and are affecting the way the people believe what is and is not real…. I feel we need to use our own resources to raise the alarm… you know, quite literally set a siren going to get people to pay attention to this.”

Many people enjoyed the show but some were left feeling uneasy. It was scary to hear eerie noises coming out of the sirens and to hear parts of L.A. were under attack, one woman said.

They weren't quite sure what to make of it, which is exactly what Sharon was going for. Sharon is a 2017 MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient known for site-specific operas that push boundaries, if not destroy them entirely.

“Question everything. Question authority. Question what you hear. I hope that the hour piece is an opportunity to really reflect on how to engage with making change."

 


Surf zombies (and other swell costumes) compete for Halloween glory

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

Oct 30, 2017

A group of this year’s Haunted Heats competitors.

A group of this year’s Haunted Heats competitors.

Listen here: https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2017/10/30/59901/surf-zombies-and-other-swell-costumes-compete-for/

Jimi Hendrix, Kim Jong-un and a hotdog were found milling about the beach in Santa Monica this weekend.  No it wasn’t a dream—it was the Haunted Heats event thrown by local skate and surf shop ZJ Boarding House. 

Todd Roberts, one of the shop's founders, hosted the event now in its 10th year. To compete,  surfers had to act out their costumes both on the beach and while riding the waves. There were some pretty spooky and cooky outfits this year, like 3 men dressed as human piñatas.

“Well…We’re inspired by birthday cultures, especially Southern California, Mexican American kinda mash; so we’re human piñatas, here to spread candy and joy to all the kiddes and adults.”

Many people spent weeks or even months planning their costumes and their acts in the water.

There was a turquoise shark:

“So! I plan on going surfing for a moment, I will have a thing of fake blood with me and at one point I may lose my board get some fins on me and go and attack all other surfers, and it may come out bloody.”

There was Tippi Hedren from Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds."  She wore a retro style dress with black feathers and fake crows stuck to it with blood splattered all over. 

“The birds! I don’t know what’s happening get them off of me! Ahh! Ahh!!”

Adults and kids competed in different groups, or "heats" in surfer terms. There was panel of three judges scoring the beach performances and another three judges scoring the action in the ocean.

Crowds gathered to watch from the sand. Even a pod of dolphins (real ones, not people in costume) hung around the surfing contestants, as if they, too, were gawking.

Human piñatas batted at smaller real piñatas hanging from their bodies while on another board a woman wearing a giant triangular cheese hat, calling herself the ‘cheese goddess,’ caught waves.

It was a contest but nobody really seemed to care about winning. Heres what one of the piñatas had to say:

“It’s just a privilege to dress up in this ridiculous outfit and share our joy of Halloween with the community and everybody here at the beach; so  just being in here is already a win.”

Winners were announced for best costume, best act in the water and best overall. This year’s prize was taken by a surfer dressed as Kim Jong-un and three women dressed as nuclear missiles. They used music, lit smoke bombs and stayed totally in character the entire morning. Proceeds from event will go to help victims of the recent wildfires in northern California. 

 


Nerdy inventors to open country's first micro-amusement park in DTLA

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

July 11, 2017

Two Bit Circus founders Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman outside of the companies headquarters in Brewery Arts Complex in Los Angeles.

Two Bit Circus founders Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman outside of the companies headquarters in Brewery Arts Complex in Los Angeles.

Listen here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2017/07/11/57800/nerdy-inventors-to-open-country-s-first-micro-amus/

A group of inventors is betting they can get millennials to put down their phones and play together in the country’s first micro-amusement park. Two Bit Circus is opening the first of a chain of small-scale amusement parks here in downtown L.A. in early 2018.  Their unique style of entertainment combines old school carnival fun and cutting edge technology — and they even have a robot bartender.

I see our micro-amusement park as completely disrupting the entertainment industry, the world has nothing like this: there's no place that takes advantage of smaller spaces like we intend to do. There's no place that's filled with content that's constantly being rotated… there's no place where new technologies can come and live and be showcased in a place that allows everyone to play with them, and when they get old and stale we replace them with newer, cooler stuff.

– Eric Gradman, co-founder of Two Bit Circus.

The games and scenarios will change, so guests won’t get sick of the same thing. Gradman says this is a problem with other circuses and the out-of-home entertainment industry as a whole. Besides being a computer programmer and roboticist, Gradman also used to be a professional fire dancer and acrobat. He’d preform acts like hanging upside down by his ankles from a giant crane 40 feet above the pavement while spitting fire. Today, he’s the company’s resident technology officer and self-proclaimed mad inventor.

Gradman was introduced to Brent Bushnell by a mutual friend and the two immediately clicked. They both loved tinkering and inventing games, and Bushnell also used to perform in the circus as a nerd clown. Aside from being goofy, he’s got invention in his blood, his dad, Nolan Bushnell, founded Atari and Chuck-e-Cheese. Bushnell senior exposed his son to the business of entertainment from a young age. 

The moment Bushnell met Gradman, they began working on projects together and pretty soon they were getting paid to bring their kooky inventions to events thrown by Intel, Honda, Microsoft and others. They founded Two Bit Circus in 2012 and not long after, their inventions were being featured at high profile events as the NFL and the Olympics.

“Eric is incredible, we could talk about something in the morning and he’ll literally have a working version in the afternoon,” said Brent Bushnell.

The Two Bit Circus headquarters is at the Lincoln Heights Brewery Arts Complex. On any given day their staff is sawing, welding, building electronics, experimenting with VR, writing code and even etching their own circuits. Their company’s DNA is built on being able to rapidly make and test prototypes.

For the past year the shop’s been focused on creating new games for their micro-amusement park.  They’ve got a robot that paints the image you draw, by shooting paintballs at a wall. There’s a magic mirror that interacts with you and changes your face in many different characters. Not to mention the 5-foot-tall robot bartender that looks like an old-time jukebox. 

Brent Bushnell plays a game based on Japanese game shows that makes the player move like they are in a tetras game. “It’s a really active game and part of what makes this social is [just] look how ridiculous I am!"

But perhaps even more impressive is a motion platform that uses simulation technology--- originally meant for training pilots-- to make the player actually feel what its like to drive a tank or fly a plane.  While these games may seem all over the place, they are all intentionally geared towards getting people moving and playing together. 

Brent Bushnell plays a game based on Japanese game shows that makes the player move like they are in a tetras game. “It’s a really active game and part of what makes this social is [just] look how ridiculous I am!”

They don’t see themselves as having any direct competitors but they say there will still some be challenges.

One is of course durability, where building stuff that has to last, it has to withstand the most powerful destructive force in the world… that being kids and drunk people.

– Eric Gradman.

Their micro-amusement park is betting on two trends says Bushnell. One is glut of newly available real estate in malls as retail moves online. And the other:

People want new life experience you could think of their Instagram as kind of a new kind of currency rate and is not wearing the shirt that has the Porsche logo that says you're cool, it's what kind of cool new experiences you’re getting into, and so this is about a place for new life experience.

– Brent Bushnell.

Angelinos will be able to judge the experience for themselves when Two Bit Circus opens in downtown LA in early 2018. 

 


SoCal’s ‘sex-crazed fish party’ — the grunion run — may be facing difficulties

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

June 15, 2017

Tim Rudnick, this flyer's author, has taken some flak for describing the grunion’s mating ritual as a "sex-crazed fish party," but he says he's trying to get people interested in grunion. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Tim Rudnick, this flyer's author, has taken some flak for describing the grunion’s mating ritual as a "sex-crazed fish party," but he says he's trying to get people interested in grunion. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here: http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/06/15/72896/grunion-run-socal-s-sex-crazed-fish-party-may-beco/

One of nature’s most unusual mating rituals takes place right here in Southern California — the grunion run. Masses of sardine-like fish ride the tides onshore to mate in one of the late spring and early summer’s most epic wildlife displays. But this may soon become a thing of the past. In recent years, grunions have seen a decline in their population.

I became curious about the runs after seeing a flyer advertising a  ‘sex-crazed fish party’ at night on Venice beach. Tim Rudnick, the flyer’s author, is a long-time Venice resident and has been organizing grunion-run parties for 22 years. He operates the Venice Oceanarium and throws these parties as a way to get people to care about the environment. 

 “The grunion just excite the hell out of you," Rudnick said. "You feel like you're in a wild, wild environment. You never see the city the same again after that.”

The party began at 10:30 p.m., as a few hundred people trickled in. The beach was completely dark, except for a few flashlights, white stars and the distant rainbow colors of the Santa Monica Ferris wheel. 

All these people came to witness one of SoCal’s most impressive natural events. If you’ve never seen a grunion run, here’s what happens: Female grunions ride the tide onto the shore and then use their tail as a shovel to dig themselves into the sand until they are sticking straight up, like an asparagus shoot.

Then the males — or "sex-crazed fish," as Rudnick describes them — come onshore. They wrap themselves around the females and release their milt or sperm to fertilize the eggs she’s just laid. Then they males and females all scurry back out to sea. What makes these runs so spectacular is they can happen in the thousands — covering entire beaches with these squiggly tide surfers.

Rudnick hoped this year’s run would be a big one, but as the hours passed by there were no signs of fish.

Karen Martin,  a professor at Pepperdine University and one of the world’s leading experts on grunion, said she has some ideas as to why a lot of fish are not showing up. Looking at long-term survey data for the California coast, she has seen a decline in grunions over the last three to four years. The culprit? In large part, it could be climate change.

“The grunion are not only going to be affected by changing ocean temperatures but they also can be affected by changing air temperatures, because they spawn on beaches,”Martin said.

Ocean temperatures were affected by warmer air in 2016 in 2015, which were two of the hottest years on record. Loss of habit caused by rising sea levels could also be affecting the grunion.  Another big way they’re losing the sandy beaches they need to spawn is due to people building sea walls to protect ocean property or damning rivers that bring natural sediment to beaches.  Grunion are an important food source for the halibut, sea bass, dolphins and sea lions.

People saw a few fishes here and there, but this year’s Venice grunion run party was a bit of a dud. Benjamin Kay, a marine biology professor at Santa Monica College and Santa Monica High School, brought a group of students out to see the run.

“Yeah, I’m a little bummed," Kay said. "I told all my students it would be a spectacle, and we saw like four fish. ... But that’s the way it is, you know, it’s a little bit like fishing.”

The lack of fish at this year’s Venice party could be due to climate change, but it can be hard to predict when and at which beach the fish will run on.  They also might have been scared away by all the people, lights and sounds. 

If you want to see a grunion run for yourself or learn more about the fish, check out the California Department of Wildlife's grunion page

 

 


Women's rights activist Mukhtar Mai inspires the opera 'Thumbprint'

Published by: The Frame, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

June 15, 2017

Kamala Sankaram at rehearsal in the Redcat Theatre. She is the composer and the star of the opera "Thumbprint." Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Kamala Sankaram at rehearsal in the Redcat Theatre. She is the composer and the star of the opera "Thumbprint." Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen Here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2017/06/15/57412/women-s-rights-activist-mukhtar-mai-inspires-the-o/

Many operas are about issues and challenges people faced in ancient or medieval times— but not "Thumbprint." This contemporary opera which is making it's West Coast debut with the LA Opera at REDCAT, is based on the true-life heroic story of Mukhtar Mai.

It deals with the contemporary issue of rape and women’s rights in Pakistan. Still, the three women who created the opera believe the themes of feminism, sexual violence and women’s equality resonate with women everywhere.

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was gang raped and then paraded naked through her remote Pakistani village as punishment for a crime her younger brother had supposedly committed. Pakistani tradition dictates that women who are raped are expected to commit suicide or hide themselves away forever in shame. But instead Mai chose to stand up for herself and for fight for justice.

“She found the impulse within herself to say this is not right like this is fundamentally not right!  I did nothing wrong and I'm being punished, these men should be punished for what they have done to me,” said Thumbprint’s producer Beth Morrison.

Morrison runs a bi-coastal contemporary opera and new music production company called Beth Morrison Projects. She was so inspired by Mai’s story that she commissioned an opera based on it.

What makes this story even more remarkable is that Mai, being from a low caste in Pakistan’s poorest region, was illiterate when the attack happened. Susan Yankowitz, who wrote the libretto, says, “Mukhtar had to sign her charges with her thumbprint, and at that moment she understood how important it was for her to have an education and to be able to sign in a way that was dignified.”

Yankowitz took that fact as the inspiration for the opera's title. She based the libretto on a series of in-person interviews she did with Mukhtar Mai in New York and Washington D.C.

"I don't see theater or opera as just entertainment; I see it as a way to to talk about something," says Yankowitz. "Now it needs to have artistic excellence I hope this does... but it also needs to have content which is often in my view sorely lacking both in contemporary theater and contemporary opera."

Mai won her case in court. Six of the fourteen men accused of her rape were convicted and sentenced to death. It was a landslide victory for women’s rights and sent shock waves through the Pakistani society. Later, a number of them were acquitted on appeal

Instead of taking the money that Mai got from the court settlement and moving on quietly with her life, she built a school in her village for girls and devoted herself to promoting women’s rights.  

The "Thumbprint" creative team used the language of music and opera to add a level of emotional intensity to Mai’s story that Yankowitz says just can’t be achieved with words. Kamala Sankaram composed the score and also plays Mai in the show.

“I used the operatic voice as a musical metaphor for Mukhtar finding her own voice. The first half of the show stays pretty much in the middle range which for a soprano is not the most powerful part of the voice but then as Mukhtar sort of finds herself and makes the decision that she's going to take her case to court it expands upward above the staff and starts to add coloratura which is a lot of fiery fast-moving notes,” said Sankaram.

When "Thumbprint" premiered in New York City in 2014, producer Beth Morrison wanted Mai at the premiere but she didn’t have the resources at the time. Now, with "Thumbprint" making its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles she decided to try again. "It's always been on my mind to have her come," says Morrison, "So about six weeks ago we were like, maybe we should try again and see if we could make this happen now."

But it hasn't been easy. At first they couldn’t find Mukhtar. Then when they did, she didn’t have a passport. Once she got that expedited, she needed to get a visa. That's a process that could take weeks or months– time they did not have. Morrison reached out to contacts who knew people at the Pakistani embassy in Islamabad for help. In the meantime, she had to raise the money to cover Mai’s expenses.

The entire "Thumbprint" creative team felt equally as strong about getting Mukhtar to Los Angeles for the premiere. “There's this beautiful line in the libretto that comes directly from Mukhtar," Beth Morrison says, "which is 'one voice sings and a thousand hear the song.'" For Morrison, this line embodies her belief in opera’s ability to tell stories in a unique way that inspires others. 

"I think it’s important that Mukhtar see the piece because I want her to know that her story has touched people and that it also has this epic quality to it," says Kamala Sankaram.

“I would love her to be able to see it...to see that her story has resonance beyond Pakistan, that it has resonance really everywhere,” said Susan Yankowitz. 

The creative team's wish came true. They were able to raise the money with help from the LA Opera and a member of Beth Morrison's board of directors. Mai was granted her visa. And she got on a plane just in time for her to arrive in Los Angeles for the premiere of "Thumbprint."  

"Thumbprint" runs at REDCAT theatre Thursday, June 15 through Sunday, June 18. Tickets available at LA Opera.com.

 


How the escalator area at Disney Concert Hall became an immersive art space

Published by: The Frame, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

April 5, 2017

The "Nimbus" installation at Walt Disney Concert hall. Photo Credit: Adriana Cargill

The "Nimbus" installation at Walt Disney Concert hall. Photo Credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2017/05/17/56009/how-the-escalator-area-at-disney-concert-hall-beca/

Yuval Sharon is a guy that pulls off the impossible. And when he talks about his latest project "Nimbus," there’s a little bit of mischief in his voice.

SHARON: "Nimbus was the first project that I took on as the artist-collaborator for the LA Phil. It’s part of 3 year residency and I really want to start off with something that would be open to the public and that would be free. Looking at some of the spaces that we maybe don't consider performative and thinking about how music and visual art and performance can actually activate those spaces."

Chad Smith, the chief operating officer at the LA Phil, supports Sharon's outside-the-box approach to performance.

In order for an institution to remain healthy they have to be experimenting and they have to be innovating. It's not always easy to innovate from inside. Sometimes you need to bring in that of that radical element.

For him, that radical element is Sharon. Because he’s a guy who has a lot of respect for traditional theater and opera, but he's also known for pushing it's boundaries. His 2015 mobile opera, "Hopscotch," brought the audience out of the theatre and into cars that drove around to different corners of Los Angeles.

"Nimbus" is also in an unusual location – the escalator hallway that moves people from the parking garage into the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

SHARON: "The idea started with the architecture and thinking about part of the hall that is maybe overlooked and I that escalator area is one I think of as a really beautiful feature of Frank Gehry's design but it's often overlooked."

"Nimbus" is made up of six massive photorealistic clouds. It hangs 40 feet in the air above the escalators. It’s a sound and visual art installation. The "Nimbus" soundtrack, composed by UC San Diego professor Rand Steiger, runs 12 hours in length. The music is at times abstract and at other times mimics nature. Sharon noted a piece made up of thousands of xylophones samples.

SHARON: "Xylorain" gives you a feeling of a rainstorm passing over you and because the 32 channel speakers as you’re going up the escalators. You feel like you're suddenly immersed in a in a rainstorm but it's all been created with acoustic instruments."

It is the LA Phil playing a lot of these particular segments. It's just your hearing them in a way that you never quite heard them before. You're hearing them through the clouds and electronically dispersed on your way into the concert hall.

Sharon worked with a lighting designer and artist Patrick Shearn to create the clouds. Shearn got his start making dinosaurs for "Jurassic Park" and the realistic penguin army in "Batman Returns." He worked hard to make "Nimbus" look as much as possible like a real clouds. He even sometimes had his staff listen to Steiger’s "Nimbus" music as they sculpted them.

SHEARN: "The thing I enjoyed the most was being in there in the middle of the night when nobody else is around and, feeling like you’re getting away with something, doing some kind of giant prank or something. There was this kids-getting-away-with-it feeling that was really fun."

The Phil is a major player in an art world that’s pretty serious and traditional — it’s not the kinda place where you’d expect of find this whimsical interactive gigantic cloud thingy. But that’s exactly what Chad Smith, wanted when he asked Sharon to be the LA Phil’s first artist-collaborator.

SMITH: "The artist collaborator’s job is to get in, get things messy push, us to our limits push us beyond our limits push us beyond our comfort level.  We have to be able to dream big. The skies the limit."

For "Nimbus," it’s actually the ceiling of hall. But for Sharon, his plans go way beyond that.


 


'Good Grief' & the therapy of theater

Published by: The Frame, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

March 22, 2017

L-R: MJ (played by Wade Allain-Marcus) and Nkechi (played by Ngozi Anyanwu) share a tender moment. On stage at the Kirk Douglas Theater. Photo credit: Craig Schwartz.

L-R: MJ (played by Wade Allain-Marcus) and Nkechi (played by Ngozi Anyanwu) share a tender moment. On stage at the Kirk Douglas Theater. Photo credit: Craig Schwartz.

Listen Here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2017/03/22/55749/good-grief-the-therapy-of-theater/

“Good Grief” is a new play by a new playwright on the LA theater scene, Ngozi Anyanwu. She won the Centre Theatre Group’s inaugural Humanitas Playwriting Prize which meant getting a grant to mount "Good Grief" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. It's there now and she's playing the lead.

The Frame contributor Adriana Cargill says that this play about grief can offer a lot of hope for those who are grieving.

"Good Grief" is about Nkechi, a first generation Nigerian girl growing up in Philadelphia. While she’s taking time off from college, MJ– her best friend and love interest– is suddenly killed in a car accident.

This actually happened to the playwright Ngozi Anyanwu, in real life.

“I feel like the play’s for anyone who's ever lost anyone which, unfortunately, will be everybody's experience. I'm trying to convey that, like, grief is good.. going through it in a very deep manner is good,” says Anyanwu who also stars in the show.

The plot unfolds through a non-linear series of flashbacks with MJ and flash forwards to Nkechi trying to process losing him. The play has a very personal, candid and raw quality that wows audiences.

“I feel a little bit cathartic because I can relate to a lot of the things she’s saying. I also feel—I’m not gonna lie— like, a lot of pain,” Says Chris Callahan.  He joined Adriana Cargill at a performance recently. And as someone who's lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident in October 2016 he says that the play inspired him.

“It’s pretty cool if you think about. She’s gonna have this giant production that is really in honor of someone she lost– and also giving advice and courage to people who have been in similar positions.  So in many ways it makes me think I should do the same,” said Callahan.

"Good Grief" is far from the depressing downer that we normally associate with stories about grief. There is so much, joy and celebration that sometimes you forget it’s about grief.

“I just feel like it’s hand-in-hand when you're grieving, [because] you’re grieving all those beautiful happy fun moment so why not also celebrate, you know, along with cry? It can’t be all tears,” Says Anyanwu.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments of the play happens in Nkechi's final monologue in which cries out about the constant reminders of MJ– of him being nowhere and everywhere at once. Anyanwu wrote that monologue originally as a poem on the 10th anniversary of her real-life friend's death. Then she kept on writing and the poem gave way to the play.

Anyanwu spends a lot of time in "Good Grief" playing with memory to highlight how our mind can play tricks on us, how we can misremember things and how we forget.

“It's the idea that I would like to forget you so I can always feel okay. So I don’t have the burden of your loss in my heart, I would prefer to be without pain. But that pain makes me much more appreciative of the people that I have on earth…and I view it very much, like I'm more powerful because of what his passing brought about in me.”

 


'Remote LA' turns audience into performance art

Published by: Take Two, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

March 17, 2017

David Mack, 33, watches and listens as the group begins to disappear. Photo Credit: Adriana Cargill

David Mack, 33, watches and listens as the group begins to disappear. Photo Credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen herehttp://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2017/03/17/55684/audience-become-actors-in-a-downtown-la-theater-ev/

Something unusual is about to happen in downtown L.A. About 50 people with headphones on are standing around in a garden. They’ve come to participate in something called Remote L.A. It’s billed as a "live pedestrian theatre performance," but nobody seems clear on what that means.

“My friend brought me on this adventure and I’m like it’s a journey! I don’t know what were doing; but I’m excited,” said Jennie Kim, 37. Kim brought her husband and kids with her on the adventure.

Suddenly, an artificial sounding voice starts talking to them through their headphones. The voice is called Heather, and for the next 90 minutes she guides them through the city, often asking them to look at L.A. and each other in a new way. At times, it feels like a social experiment and at others it’s fun and playful.

“I think the thing [that] was special on doing this production in Los Angeles is that the city is very much car based that people are not used to walk a lot so it shows you what you can see in the city if you experience it as pedestrian and not sitting in your car,” says Jörg Karrenbauer, the director and co-creator of the performance.

Karrenbauer is part of the German-based Rimini Protokoll art collective that has put on Remote performances in cities across the world.

He was invited by Diane Rodriguez, the associate artistic director of center Theatre Group to create Remote LA.  Center Theatre Group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and to make it memorable they decided to bring theatre out of the playhouse and into the streets.

“So the city is never boring…it's very theatrical, it’s very entertaining already by itself. This is what it makes it very easy to look at it as creating theatrical moments in the city just by framing moments, by stopping the people, by telling them ‘okay stop, and look,” says Karrenbauer.

In this performance, the participants are actors and audience simultaneously. They observe the city, but the everyday passersby also look curiously at them. The technology Karrenbauer uses seems to react to what the participants are doing and what’s happening around them; creating moments of theatre magic.

“This is a chance to give Los Angeles a deeper look; not just blink and quickly drive by in your car; it’s a moment to observe in a way that you never let yourself. That's why you will remember it; because you're forced to do something in a very cool and fun way…” says Diane Rodriguez.

And how did the actors-slash-audience feel about it when it was all over?

“It was a rocking good time, I had a blast, I saw a lot of spaces I’ve never seen before and I’ve been around L.A.  for a couple years so that was great!” said Dave Mack. 

 “I felt like I was part of a big sociology experiment at times, and other times I felt like was inside a sci-fi movie,” said Jennie Kim. “You know us Angelinos, we don’t really walking [laughs] so this was really nice, I liked the walking.”

Remote L.A. runs through April 2nd and tickets are available at

 

 


A Breathtaking Musical Journey Through Kazakhstan: Part 1 + 2

Published by: Arts Alive, Classical KUSC, Southern California public radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

January 7 (Episode 1) January 14 (Episode 2), 2017

A view of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Timur

A view of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Timur

Listen here: http://www.kusc.org/culture/arts-alive-blog/kazakhstan-part-1/

*please scroll down on KUSC Arts Alive Blog see listen to embedded sound file

Kazakhstan is the only country in Central Asia that has a classical music station, Radio Classic. Over the last couple years, KUSC has begun to form a relationship with Radio Classic and learn about their little known, but incredibly vibrant contemporary classical music scene. Nestled up against Russia and China, Kazakh classical music reflects the blend of cultures that make up its people. Russian-style European classical music influences can be heard in some contemporary compositions with Kazakh folk instruments, creating a uniquely Kazakh sound. These instruments, like the dombra and Kyl-kobyz, were created by nomads that roamed the plains of Central Asia for centuries. This special four part series produced by Adriana Cargill for Arts Alive(Saturdays at 8AM, and available as a podcast), will focus on the unique musical styles of Kazakhstan and the country’s connection with our own classical music community right here in L.A.

In episode one we meet the L.A. based Kazakh Opera singer who goes by just his first name, Timur, and internationally renowned CalArts composer Anne LeBaron. Timur’s life journey from Kazakhstan to L.A. is remarkable and his range as a performer, extraordinary.

In episode two, LeBaron travels to Kazakhstan to discover it’s breathtaking landscapes and exotic instruments made from sheep bones and horse hair. LeBaron returns to the U.S. full of ideas and begins working on creating a cantata inspired by the history of Kazakhstan with Timur. There’s even a guest appearance by the LA Phil’s Chief Operating Officer, Chad Smith.

 


A Breathtaking Musical Journey Through Kazakhstan: Part 3 + 4

Published by: Arts Alive, Classical KUSC, Southern California public radio

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

January 21 (Episode 3) January 28 (Episode 4), 2017

The Silent Steppe Cantata was performed here at Congress Hall on December 11, 2011 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Photo credit: Anne LeBaron

The Silent Steppe Cantata was performed here at Congress Hall on December 11, 2011 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Photo credit: Anne LeBaron

Listen here: http://www.kusc.org/culture/arts-alive-blog/breathtaking-musical-journey-kazakhstan-part-3-4/

*please scroll down on KUSC Arts Alive Blog see listen to embedded sound file

Kazakhstan is a country that’s finding itself. Twenty-five years after it stepped out of the Soviet Union’s shadow, it’s now on the path to define it’s own independent identity. Through art and music it’s reclaiming its ancient history and folk traditions. It’s combing those traditions with the best of its recent Soviet past to create a uniquely modern Kazakh identity. In the final two parts of this special four part series produced by Adriana Cargill for Arts Alive (Saturdays at 8AM, and available as a podcast), we experience a country in the process of reinventing its own identity through music. We’ll also hear how Kazakhstan is connected to our own classical music community right here in L.A.

In episode 3, we follow the LA Phil’s Chad Smith as he journeys to Astana, Kazakhstan to see the world premiere of the Silent Steppe Cantata. The performance is the culmination of years of work by internationally renowned CalArts composer Anne LeBaron and L.A. based Opera singer Timur. The Cantata is inspired by the history of Kazakhstan, Timur’s home country. It’s a powerful work that reflects the country’s nomadic past and the tragedies it suffered under Soviet Union control; but it’s also a rumination on the transformative power of music to define and shape one’s own identity and destiny.

In episode 4, KUSC’s President Brenda Barnes and Chris Mendez, the director of new media, travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan to help the fledgling classical radio station Radio Classic. It’s the first-ever classical music station in Central Asia and brainchild of the famous Kazakh pianist Zhania Aubakirovoi and Rashuan Jumaniyazova. We’ll hear about their adventures ice-skating at the foothills of the Himalayas, teaching master classes and their experience with Kazakhstan’s generous hosting culture. Although they went there to teach, Barnes and Mendez ended up learning some lessons too. Cultivating and supporting the classical music community worldwide is important to KUSC and it’s their belief that including diverse voices is part of what makes the L.A. art scene world class.


 

Lewis MacAdams, the LA River's main man, turns over the reins of FoLAR

Published by: KPCC, featured on NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition

Produced and reported by: Adriana Cargill

December 1, 2016

Lewis MacAdams at the FoLAR headquarters in November 2016. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Lewis MacAdams at the FoLAR headquarters in November 2016. Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here: http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/12/01/66710/folar-founder-turns-over-reins-of-advocacy-group/

The Los Angeles River, once the lifeblood of the city, was encased in concrete by the Army Corps of Engineers after devastating floods in the 1930s. Before Lewis MacAdams began his work, most Angelenos were scarcely aware they even had a river. MacAdams’ unique use of poetry, art and community engagement help change the ways Angelenos think about their once forgotten river.

His 30-year love affair with the river started one night in the winter of 1986 with a lot of heavy drinking. He and a few friends went down to a stretch of the river just north of downtown and cut a hole in the chain link fence, declaring the waterway "open to the people."

"When I saw the river for the first time, it was just a tragedy it was so screwed up," MacAdams, 72, said.

He asked the river if he could speak for it in the human realm and it didn’t say no. From that night on, the river became his muse. He went on to create Friends of the Los Angeles River or FoLAR to advocate for it.

At first people didn’t understand why MacAdams was so bent on restoring the natural ecosystem of what many people saw as a concrete flood channel. He envisioned a more beautiful waterway that would bring people and nature together. 

"When we started river clean up the first year, I called for 10,000 people to show up, and 10 showed up," MacAdams said. "But I didn't care, and people made fun of it, but I didn't care because I knew something was going on there."

Andy Lipkis, executive director of the environmental non-profit TreePeople, said MacAdams has inspired him and others who pioneered L.A.'s early environmental movement. 

"Nobody has had the impact that he has had. He's not a classic leader but he is a classic visionary," Lipkis says. "We so undervalue visionaries because they're often a threat to us. They shake up our reality and have us uncomfortably see things we don't see."

In 1995, the city set about bulldozing all the vegetation in the L.A. River in the name of flood control. When MacAdams heard about it, he lay down in front of the bulldozers to stop the destruction.

He called it performance art but it led to FoLAR's first meeting with the county government.

"I was called into a meeting with head of the county Department of Public Works," MacAdams said. "And he keep referring to the river as a flood control channel. And every time he said, 'flood control channel,' I interrupted him, and I said 'river.' This back-and-forth [went on] for a few minutes, these middle aged men shouting at each other 'River!'  'No, flood control channel!' 'No river!'

It took decades to settle that argument. In 2008 the L.A. River was officially designated as a "navigable waterway" by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The crowning jewel of his push to revitalize the waterway is the so-called Alternative 20 plan, passed by the Los Angeles City Council this June. It’s a $1.3 billion plan to revitalize the river —removing concrete, restoring the ecosystem and creating more bike lanes and public parks.

MacAdams didn’t do it alone.

The plan is the result of work by many politicians, engineers, scientists, community activists, artists and environmentalists who MacAdams energized over decades. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a former creative writing student of MacAdams, said he inspired him push hard for river revitalization in his political career.

On Thursday, MacAdams will step down as president of FoLAR. Marissa Christensen, the current senior policy director, will take his place.

He said he's turning over the reins with regret that he couldn't have accomplished more. 

"Well, we haven't gotten any concrete out yet," he said. "When we get some concrete coming out, I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt."

MacAdams insists he isn't retiring despite his recent stroke. He plans to stay on FoLAR's board and continue urging people to make their own personal connection with the river. But how?

"That's a question many people have asked me and the answer is basically just take a walk along the river and the river will tell you what to do next," he said. "It's no secret."

Currently in the planning phase is a seven-foot-tall statue of MacAdams somewhere along the river’s edge. It'll be an homage to the man who has devoted his life to shaping the city’s vision of the river. A poem he has written about his beloved river muse will be etched into the statue:

“To Artesia”

I think of the river

the way it reads in the

Sam Shepard story,

Cruising Paradise—

a “huge concrete serpent,”

a “dumping ground for murder victims.”

I think of the river beside a freeway off-ramp as

roller-bladers, bent into it,

spandexed buttocks rotating,

roll downstream. I think

of William Mulholland’s

“gentle, limpid stream”

coursing from a Pharaoh’s forehead

or from the brow of a Rhine-maiden,

green-eyed and coffee-colored,

a bracelet of drowned children

wrapped around her wrist, descending

from the mountains east of Irwindale

into the jardin des rocas. The river

is a rigorous mistress,

but when you tickle her

with your deeds, you can hear laughter

from beneath her concrete corset.


 



Can Chicago’s recent plague of violence be cured?

Published by: Marketplace Weekend

Produced by: Adriana Cargill, Interviewed by Lizzie O'Leary

September 16, 2016

Listen here: https://www.marketplace.org/2016/09/15/wealth-poverty/can-chicago-s-violence-be-cured

Over Labor Day Weekend, Chicago’s death toll hit 500, making 2016 one of the most violent years in decades. That’s more homicides than Los Angeles and New York combined. It hasn’t been this bad since the crack cocaine-fueled gang wars of the 1990s. But focusing on the numbers alone doesn’t do justice to what’s actually happening, and more importantly, how we can end the violence. Natalie Moore, a Chicago native and longtime WBEZ Southside reporter, joined Marketplace Weekend to discuss the role economic inequality plays in urban violence today.


Could we have prevented Zika?

Published by: Marketplace

Produced by: Adriana Cargill, Interviewed by Kai Ryssdal

August 25, 2016

Listen here: https://www.marketplace.org/2016/08/25/world/could-we-have-prevented-zika

Seems like there’s a new scary disease every year—two years ago Ebola’s hemorrhagic fever and this year Zika’s misshapen baby heads. Zoonotic diseases like these have cost the world billions of dollars and millions of lives.  Earlier this month, the CDC issued its first travel warning in the continental U.S for mosquito-born Zika in Miami Florida.

While Congress continues to argue about how to fund the fight against the it, those very same mosquitoes are infecting more and more people. Dr. Peter Daszak is a disease ecologist who has spent the last 20 years looking at these types of pathogens. He’s also the President of the global nonprofit, EcoHealth Alliance which has some interesting ideas about how to stop outbreaks before they start. We talked with Dr. Daszk about why these diseases are emerging and how we can get ahead of them.


 


A Latina in Chicago’s Trading Pits

Published by: NPR's Latino USA

Sept 11, 2015

Chicago’s commodity exchanges have been more or less a man’s world. In massive windowless rooms covered in lights and bells, traders shout out numbers, aggressively competing for trades on things like corn and wheat options. Virginia McGathey, who is both Latina and gay, entered that world over 30 years ago. At first, she was taunted, ridiculed and even harassed. But by barking back, Virginia taught the men she worked with that they better respect her. Reporter Adriana Cargill tells us Virginia’s story.

Photo credit: Adriana Cargill

Listen here:  http://latinousa.org/2015/09/11/a-latina-in-chicagos-trading-pits/

 


When does life begin?

Published by: Third Coast Festival, ShortDoc Challenge 2015

Two women go to the hospital with pain in their stomach, but each one is on a very different journey.


What's it like to fast during Ramadan?

Produced by: Adriana Cargill and Bethel Habte
Photo credit: Kate Morrissey

August 2015

Fasting is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam. This year the holy Muslim month of Ramadan took place in July, one of the hottest and longest months of the year. Every day of the month, Muslims forgo water and food from sun up to sun down, believing that this sacrifice brings them closer to God.

Bethel Habte and I asked our friend Alysha Khan - an Indian-American from Miami - to record what it’s like to fast for a day. What she goes through is completely invisible to the non-Muslims around her. We wanted to get a window into her world.