How many different arts events are available to cap any given summer night in Los Angeles? Trying to calculate this is like chasing the elusive last numeral in the pi equation, or investigating just how many different unused endings were conceived for "Sliver": One begins to feel like a novice astronomer confronted by the sheer magnitude.
In a metropolis where "Amused to Death"--author Neal Postman's critique of Western culture--isn't just a literary theorem but the accepted way of life, then, the role of our annual "Summer Splash" supplement is to play a sort of Dr. Kevorkian, if you will--helpfully guiding you, the perplexed potential entertainee, toward the best bets for fatal amusement.
Will it be art or Arnold this June? Jazz or the Joffrey in July? Galleries or grunge? Porno for Pyros or Esa-Pekka Salonen? Monet, Mikhail or Mickey?
It feels like a sweaty Labor Day already just laboring over the lists of alternatives. So in the interest of making the season more user-friendly, we've come up with four different sample itineraries to keep four different types of arts buffs busier than sin. Simply choose your favorite demographic, then it's on your mark, get set, and (as they said in "Wild Palms") everything must go.
. . . And, well, sorry, Mr. Postman. Guess you had to be here.
ITINERARY 1: YOU LIKE TO WATUSI DON'T YOU
A rocky midyear road map for contemporary music buffs.
She's a Maniac, Maniac, on the floor, and she's twirling like she's never twirled before. We're thinking not of Jennifer Beals, of course, but rather the lustrous Natalie Merchant, lead thrush of 10,000 Maniacs, who'll be starting off your pop summer at the Greek Theatre (June 2-3). . . . Next, catch up with erstwhile fun girl Cyndi Lauper, re-emerging from the "where are they now" file to preview her first album in four years at the Henry Fonda Theatre (June 4).
Up next is a veritable Woodstock for lingering members of the Sing Out! set, or maybe just a "Lollapalooza" for those of us already plagued by tinnitus. If I had a hammer, I'd pawn it to raise money for a two-day pass to the "Troubadours of Folk" Festival at UCLA's Drake Stadium, which spotlights not only relative oldsters like Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Peter, Paul & Mary, Richard Thompson and balding Spinal Tap spinoffs the Folksmen but also slightly younger folkies like Peter Case and Mary-Chapin Carpenter (June 5-6).
If your preferences run less toward the acoustic and more toward the un-"Unplugged" mode, plan that weekend instead around a trip to the Olympic Velodrome at Cal State Dominguez Hills--for the first post-album appearance of Perry Farrell's currently incendiary Porno for Pyros (June 5). . . . Having indulged America's alternative group-of-the-moment, afford equal time to Britain's current big thing, the glitter-reviving Suede, at the Hollywood Colonnade (June 11).
You have a whole day's respite before it's time to celebrate the--whoa!--20th anniversary of one of L.A.'s all-time great bands, Los Lobos, back at the Greek (June 12). . . . Unfortunately, the Lobos lay down their wolverine smoke the same night as a promising multi-act show way across town: KROQ's "First Annual Weenie Roast and Sing-Along" at Irvine Meadows, the inevitable summertime successor to the radio station's successful acoustic Christmas shows (June 12).
He's hot, he's sexy and he sings in French, sometimes: Exalted producer-cum-singer Daniel Lanois kicks off a swing of Southland shows at the Henry Fonda Theatre (June 19). . . . A month later, go digging in the dirt, shovel up your piggybank and pay any price to see one of the guys Lanois is most famous for producing, Peter Gabriel, at the Forum (July 22). . . . To carry you through the month between Lanois and Gabriel, the Wiltern presents very possibly the coolest white man alive: Leonard Cohen (July 5).
For the "post-modern" set, the largest-looming state holiday is, of course, the carnival-like "Lollapalooza," taking place this year at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area with a small army of acts including Arrested Development, Fishbone, Dinosaur Jr. and Alice in Chains (Aug. 7).
Then get outcher tie-die and shorts, young lovers: Neo-hippies have their heyday in August. First, there's the Grateful Dead in a landmark appearance at the Rose Bowl, bound to be the quickest sellout of the summer (Aug. 14). . . . And, two weeks later, if the Dead actually finish jamming by then, you kids'll want to head over to the Greek and ease your way into Labor Day by taking in the triple-bill of the Spin Doctors, Soul Asylum and Screaming Trees (Aug. 28), no?
ITINERARY 2: WHAT'S THE LOUVRE GOT TO DO WITH IT
\o7 A brief, balmy blueprint for friends of the "finer" arts.