Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, January 05, 2001

This week offers a couple of concerts, a documentary about an unusual cultural icon and a reading by a talented Southeast author.

"Crumb" is a 1995 documentary about cartoonist and illustrator Robert Crumb. Based for many years in San Francisco, R. Crumb (as he signed his work) drew hundreds of underground comics that captured the Bay Area hippie and drug culture of the '60s and '70s. Crumb invented Mr. Natural (slogan: "Keep on Truckin") and drew the cover of Janis Joplin's first album.

As the film shows, Crumb is a remarkable man, incredibly imaginative and the survivor of an extremely weird family. He was never into drugs and was always something of an outsider to all the hipness and happenings of the era. It's not that he wasn't there, he's just more an observer than a participant.

His artwork also goes far beyond underground comics, many of which are sexually explicit as well as funny. He's an expert on American music, blues, old-time and jazz, and has done many artistic tributes to great American musicians. He's a great character for a documentary, colorful, honest and eccentric.

When I was in fourth grade at St. Joseph's Catholic School, a friend loaned me a Crumb "Fritz the Cat" comic, which was very funny until my mom took it away and lectured me on counterculture trash. Some folks, like my mom, might find Crumb's sense of humor sexist, adolescent and offensive. He's not entirely likable, but he is interesting. The documentary is unrated, but sort of a PG-13 level. "Crumb" shows at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the back room cinema..he back room is featuring an interesting selection of movies this month, all documentaries. Next week there's "Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography," a look at dozens of great clips from classic films and interviews with the cinematographers who shot them. Mid-month there's "Looking for Richard," an Al Pacinodirected film about Shakespeare's "Richard III" and the many notable actors who have portrayed that title character in film and on stage. Finally, there's "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media," a documentary on the American media, politics and image making featuring author and philosopher Noam Chomsky.

Author John Straley reads from his new mystery novel, "Cold Water Burning," from 5 to 7 tonight at Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall. A few months ago Straley, who lives in Sitka, talked about writing, read a couple of his poems and some of this same novel at the library. It was great. Straley is a talented writer and an entertaining speaker and I'd recommend checking out this free event.

"Cold Water Burning" is his sixth novel set in Southeast Alaska and featuring the misadventures of private investigator Cecil Younger. I've read most of them, including this new one. It's always insightful to hear an author read and discuss his or her work in person.

The Bach to Broadway Choral Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Chapel by the Lake is guaranteed to please folks who enjoy choral music. Organized by Juneau Lyric Opera, the concert is the culmination of a week of workshops and rehearsals with guest conductor and voice teacher Byron McGilvray. The choir includes many very fine Juneau singers, folks who are familiar faces from local stage productions and choirs.

Finally, there's a concert next week with pianist Adam Neiman. This is part of the Juneau Arts and Humanity Council's Student Concert Series, which features nationally recognized young talented classical players. Neiman is a 20yearold prodigy and was signed by a national agency when he was 17. He's toured all over the world. He will be teaching a master class as well as performing. The concert is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Northern Light United Church. The piano master class is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, at the JuneauDouglas High School auditorium. Call 586-2787 to sign up.

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