Art/Culture: National Theatre presents “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to see a special performance from London’s National Theatre of Tennessee Williams’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning play

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sienna Miller & Jack O’Connell in the starring roles. Show image photography -Charlie Grey.

But I saw it from the comfort of my seat at the Camelot theatre in Palm Springs.

When my friend Megan told me she had an extra ticket for the showing I actually thought we were going to watch a live stage performance.  It was instead a pre-recorded live performance in select cinemas around the world for one night only.  And to my surprise it was very much like being right there in person. Or at least the closest thing to experiencing the actual feeling of sitting in the theatre. This was the first I’ve heard of National Theatre Live.

Scene from the play.  Production photography – Johan Persson.

National Theatre Live was founded specifically to bring access to the incredible live performances of The National Theatre and shares them with audiences who may not have the opportunity to go to London’s West End to see them.

Broadcasts retain the feeling of a live performance and though each broadcast is filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre, cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium to ensure that cinema audiences get the ‘best seat in the house.’  I was amazed at how good it was.

I vaguely remember seeing the movie about a tempestuous marriage in a dysfunctional family with lots of secrets and lies.  In the original it was Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in the title roles and I thought who would ever be able to outdo them?  But this play, directed by Benedict Andrews managed to pair a wonderful Jack O’Connell as drunken husband Brick, and an amazing performance by Sienna Miller as Maggie “the cat”, Brick’s neglected wife. It’s a steamy family fight for survival that’s complex, riveting, disturbing and poetic all at once.  I have to admit their Mississippi accents makes the fighting and arguing sound that much more romantic.

So unless I’m actually in London, I’ll be on the lookout for more of these cinematic events by this exceptional company.

National Theatre Live launched in June 2009 with a broadcast of the National Theatre production of Phèdre with Helen Mirren. NTL captures live performances from the National Theatre and from other theatres in the UK and broadcasts them in more than 2,500 movie theaters and other venues in 60 countries worldwide. As of February 2017, the global audience reached almost 8 million people.

Next Production is Hamlet – The 2015 broadcast, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, returns to UK and international cinemas.

Have you seen one of these?


Film/Culture: Le Ride

A bad attitude is like a flat tire.  If you don’t change it, you’ll never go anywhere.

Cycling is an enjoyable sport.  Recently I’ve gotten on my bike to do a grocery run,  pick up pizza from a nearby restaurant and meet friends for coffee.  Sometimes it’s fun to be part of a local event even if you’re not a big enthusiast.  But I might become one.

The *Tour de Palm Springs may not be The Tour de France but there are some similarities.  For instance, thousands of cyclists riding along gorgeous scenery while challenging themselves for many miles to help fundraise for a variety of charities.

February 10th: I just did the 100 10 mile tour which although hardly challenging, was worthwhile and rewarding in the sense that I tried it out for the very first time.  It wasn’t a race, it was a ride – there’s a difference. Bands and cheerleaders entertained us by playing the American anthem & then as we began filing out, the theme from Rocky.  With so much energy it made us feel like athletes.  Actually, there were some authentics. 

What was really great was attending a carb loaded dinner with outdoor seating the night before, then watching an award winning documentary at the **Palm Springs Cultural Centre (used to be the Camelot Theatre).

In partnership with the American Documentary Film Festival, Tour de Palm Springs presented Le Ride The story of the first English speaking team to ride the Tour de France.  Multi Award winning producer Phil Keoghan (creator The Amazing Race) showed us what it was like to do the ride in 1928 when he re-created a history that many are not aware of.  He challenged himself to the toughest road race in the world by retracing the 1928 Tour de France riding an original vintage bicycle with no gears, breathtaking scenery all along the way.  Keoghan was in attendance for the screening and for a Q&A at the end. He was also riding on the Tour de Palm Springs. But I have a feeling he did the whole 100.

The **Palm Springs Cultural Center, a non-profit organization, was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.

*Tour de Palm Springs is a sponsored event designed to raise money for nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley and helps support more than 100 local charities.  It’s also great exercise.

  Have you ever done one of these?

Modern Lifestyle: For the love of Architecture

I wanted to prove that I, as an individual, deserved a place in the world – Paul Revere Williams.

Focus on Palm Springs Modernism and Preserving the Legacy of Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980): Architect to the Stars…and Everyone Else.

Residence in Hollywood, Calif., designed in 1928 by Paul R Williams for banking executive Victor Rosetti.

“Expensive homes are my business and social housing is my hobby,” Williams once said.

Paul Williams added the Crescent Wing to the Beverly Hills Hotel

One of my favorite months to be in Palm Springs is February, if only for the numerous events surrounding Modernism Week.  A feast for the senses; especially the eyes.

The mission of Modernism Week is to celebrate and foster appreciation of midcentury architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in the greater Palm Springs area.  But you don’t have to be here to appreciate it.  But if you are here, you’ll certainly enjoy it!

Paul Revere Williams Wins 2017 AIA Gold Medal, LAX Theme Building, 1961

Paul Revere Williams

The Man:

“California represented an acceptance of both Williams, as an African-American and his work. Maybe Southern California was the only place he could have achieved all this.” -Robert Timme, dean of the USC School of Architecture 

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz tapped Williams in 1954 to design their Palm Springs residence.  The Ball Arnaz home is an excellent example of his uncanny ability to transform a client’s dreams into substance.

Frank Sinatra also hired the architect to build a house. Williams recalled the experience designing for the crooner as particularly challenging.

“Frank Sinatra wanted a bedroom; press a button and the doors open to the patio. Press another button and the bed rolls out into the patio.”  Ahhhh….. if you can, why not?

In a nutshell….

Paul Revere Williams is an important part of Southern California’s architectural legacy. He’s well known for his sumptuous residential designs for movie stars, entertainment and business leaders, mastering a range of styles from Southern Colonial to Spanish Colonial, from Hollywood Regency to Modern. While residential design would remain an important part of his practice, in the course of his five-decade career, Williams designed thousands of buildings of all types, served on many municipal, state and federal commissions, and was active in political and social organizations earning the admiration and respect of his peers.

Modernism Week – February 15-25, 2018.

In addition, Modernism Week will feature two talks about Williams and his influence in midcentury modern architecture.

The world is a better place because of him.



Documentary: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

As you may know I’m in Palm Springs where the International Film Festival (PSIFF) is still in full swing until it ends on the 15th.

Scotty Bower then

As you may also know I very unfortunately had to miss a whole bunch of great story telling due to some kind of awful virus I picked up.  So for my second movie only since arriving here on December 31st, just beginning to feel myself again, I chose a documentary. Documentaries are some of my favorite story telling because of the truth involved.

Also, this one was directed by Matt Tyrnauer who directed the phenomenal documentary feature Valentino: The Last Emperor (2009), which was short listed for an Oscar Nomination in 2010.  He’s also a special correspondent for Vanity Fair Magazine.  He was in attendance as was his subject, Scotty Bowers, a now 94 year old man with a carefree attitude and great smile.  And one amazing story.  Oh do tell…

Scotty and the Gang

After returning from Marine Corps combat during World War II, this handsome young man arrived in Los Angeles and started pumping gas and pimping (for lack of a better word although he’d prefer to say he ran an introduction service) at 5777 Hollywood Blvd. The gas station is no longer, but the memories are.

As Bowers tells it, an overture from a seemingly unlikely customer, the tweedy gentlemanly actor Walter Pidgeon, led to Hollywood connections with some of the biggest names at the time.  Names I won’t repeat here (you’ll have to see it yourself). Scotty got some of his pals into the act and pretty soon the Richfield station was flooded with customers looking for a quick trick.  The town pump.

Well this is old Hollywood news, is it not? I mean Hollywood has a history and we’ve heard the stories before (yawn, yawn).  Well….not exactly…like this Trust me when I tell you there’ll  be some new and eye raising reveals.  Really!

And then you’ve got to ask yourself “why am I here?”  I mean in the sense of being in a sold-out audience room full of voyeurs like yourself finding out personal information on people you’ve only heard about going back years before your time.  With a little bit of embarrassment for being party to it.  But then relishing the wicked information told through Scotty’s adventures.

As the story delves into his tortured past we can’t help but wonder if Scotty was making his own escape from reality.

The story is told extremely well, it flowed perfectly with just the right amount of interviews, humor involved and naughty intrigue.  A perfect afternoon escape with a man who makes no apologies for his choices – having been the discreet pleasure pleaser of the past to both sexes. Until aids came around to claim the life of Rock Hudson and he decided to shut it down.  As he put it “I enjoyed helping others.

Scotty and his wife Lois Now

And in the manufactured Hollywood of yesteryear there was definitely a time and place for Scotty’s services and that of his posse.  Full Service indeed and Full Steam Ahead!

For tickets (while available):



Art/Culture/History: “The Post”

OPENING NIGHT – Palm Springs International Film Festival 2018 (PSIFF)

Clip from the film

There is a saying about relationships in Washington: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. – Katharine Graham

The feature film began with a panel discussion with the key players on the stage of Palm Springs High School.

Streep, Hanks & Spielberg

Katharine Graham for those of you unfamiliar, was America’s first female Fortune 500 CEO. As the renowned publisher of ‘The Washington Post,’ she guided the newspaper to national prominence, most notably when it published The Pentagon Papers and reported on the Watergate scandal.

Meryl Streep stars as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee in Steven Spielberg’s gripping true life drama behind the publication of the Pentagon Papers in Nixon’s White House. This history making movie at the time of an incensed, vindictive president meant risking careers and the future of the newspaper.

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.

Decades of government lies which led the U.S. into the mire of the Vietnam War were lifted from top secret files. The risk of publishing them was greater than great.

Spielberg, Streep, Hanks

Words to live by:

It’s hard to remake decisions and even harder to rethink nondecisions. Sometimes you don’t really decide, you just move forward, and that is what I did—moved forward blindly and mindlessly into a new and unknown life.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a lady who lunched or a women who worked. – Katharine Graham, Personal History

The festival runs until January 15th.  Check out the film and events lineup here:


Art/Culture/Film – Palm Springs International Film Festival 2018

Movie Magic 2018

Can you keep a secret?

The Palm Springs International Film Festival tradition of the Secret Screening continues, sharing a brand-new, yet-to-premiere film with only the most discreet of discerning filmgoers. You won’t know the title of the film until you see it on the screen, and once you’re in on the secret you can’t spill the beans. No talking, texting or tweeting before, during or after. While we can’t disclose specifics, we can tell you that this classified title features one of this year’s Film Awards honorees alongside one from 2017. It’s a story that may be familiar, but we promise you’ve never seen it like this before. Ohhhh….

Alongside Films and Documentaries from…

Pop Eye

The heartwarming journey of a man and his elephantThailand


Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

A fascinating, dishy documentary about the life and times of Scotty Bowers, who, after serving in the Marines in WWII stumbled into a career satisfying the sexual desires of some of the most famous people in Hollywood, both male and female.

And Everything in BetweenAs a member of the PSIFF media to cover screenings and events, I look forward to sharing some stimulating stories with you.

Perhaps with a touch of stimulating Pinot


ART Facts

Words to the Wise

Art is not a pleasure, or an amusement, art is a great matter.  Art is an organ of human life transmitting man’s reasonable perception into feeling. Leo Tolstoy – 1898

Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red

His (Tolstoy’s) definition of art is in the inverse of the truth; the task of art is to transform not perception into feeling, but feeling into perception.  Sir Herbert Read – 1960.

I found the above phrases transcribed by perfect penmanship into a beautifully gifted art book from a gallery in Washingon, D.C. I hadn’t opened up the hard cover book in a long while and re discovered it again recently as it was tucked away amongst other belongings.

The nice thing about art is that it never gets old.

ART is an appreciated respite from all the craziness in the universe right now.

How do you feel about that? Yup; me too!



Monday Mood Board #12

ART Immortal – the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries to be auctioned at Christie’s.  If only I had an extra 100 million dollars to spare…. 

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” unveiled recently at Christie’s. Credit: Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In something of an auction coup, Christie’s has secured two blockbuster works for its November Contemporary sale: the last known Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, “Salvator Mundi” or “Savior of the World,” and Andy Warhol’s final silk-screen, “Sixty Last Suppers.” – The NY Times

Andy Warhol’s “Sixty Last Suppers,” at Christie’s New York. Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie’s Auction House

The Leonardo da Vinci work is estimated at $100 million and the Warhol at $50 million. Each has been guaranteed by a third, undisclosed party.

Read the whole New York Times article here:


L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière,

At the unchanged atelier of L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière, you might find yourself sitting in the very same chair where Pablo and a few of his friends, such as Manet and Cezanne, sat sketching their model a century ago. It’s open to the public for sketching workshops in the afternoon, Monday to Saturday, except on Wednesday when there’s an evening session from 7-10pm. No reservations are necessary, just show up with paper and pencils, no teacher, just the model. (14 rue de la Grande Chaumière, 6eme; See the ‘Free Workshop’ and ‘School’ sections of the website for all prices and timetables:  Oh by the way, this is in Paris.

L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière,

Channel Gabrielle, the eternal rebel (new Chanel perfume teaser) with a message

It’s madness out there

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they’re ok, then it’s you.” – Rita Mae Brown

There is no great genius without some touch of madness – someone said.



Feel-good Friday: Listen up

My friend went to Cuba and all she brought back was this fine bunch of Cubans. They’re called Brisas del Palmar.

If you live in Vancouver you have the opportunity to watch them perform this evening.  I’ve seen them before – they’re amazing! In Vancouver for one concert only before returning back to Cuba for Fall/Winter is EL GRUPO CUBANO – BRISAS del PALMAR.

Fresh from engagements in Victoria: these Cuban musical ambassadors have performed for the Pope and granted diplomatic passports to represent Cuba in international music competitions. Their traditional music and danceable tunes are featured daily on the nationally broadcast Radio Taino. Their winter engagements include Bodequita del Medio, the Havana bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway!  Yes, I’ve been there too. And yes, I had a daiquiri (a temporary departure from mojitos).  Havana little more:

Where: St. James Hall – 3214 West 10th Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

When: Friday, October 13th at 8 pm. They start on time. Doors open at 7:30.

Cost:  $20 at the door

Sampling: 5 years ago at the Vogue Theatre:





What lies beneath the waves falls on silent shores

The very first time I went scuba diving was in the Bahamas. Fascinated with what lay beneath the sea, I was lucky enough to go out with a team from National Geographic and swam with sea turtles and lots of Grouper.  I was hooked!  Since that time, and in other locales, I noticed it getting rarer and rarer to spot certain fish and especially sea turtles.  A lot of these creatures have been around much longer than me, and sharks have been around since the time dinosaurs roamed the earth. Which is a lot longer than me.

Karina Holden’s Blue is an important and timely documentary for everyone living on planet Earth. Filmed on location in Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific, Philippines and Indonesia, it’s a very tough closeup look at our oceans and all disappearing marine life.

It really hits home, as it should. It makes you consider your choices and makes you question how you can make a difference.  How even one person can help make a difference.   Think about it.

Why on earth, in this day and age, are people still cutting off shark fins and throwing shark bodies back into the ocean?  It’s sickening and it made me cry. Seabirds who rely on fish to sustain them are also in rapid decline. We, as a whole, have to do something about it. But there is a chain reaction because uneducated people who have no money and who live in small fishing villages in third world countries thrive on the livelihood of this industry. And $100 per shark fin is a lot of money. It is wasteful and horrific.

WARNING: More than half of all marine life has been lost due to plastic pollution, over fishing, habitat destruction and the expansion of industrialization.

While we get closer to a trek to Mars, why not concentrate first on what we can do here on Earth to make our planet a better place for all living species?

Because a healthy ocean is key to a healthy planet.

Please WATCH this short Trailer:

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is on until Friday, October 13th.  For tickets and information please visit: