Author: Michael Konik

Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...

I Am Hitler’s Driver

Thanks to their proximity to important people everyone knows, unimportant people whose names we don’t remember, “regular” folks like me and you, often have a fleeting opportunity to change the course of World History. Henry the VIII’s chef; Napoleon’s personal physician; Hitler’s driver. With a little help and a lot of courage, each of them...

It’s All Good

Ask anyone under the age of 35: it’s all good. You accidentally bump your shopping cart into someone standing in line at the supermarket: Oops! No worries. It’s all good. You show up a few minutes late for a scheduled appointment: No problem, it’s all good. You forget someone’s name for the third time: Whatever....

New Music Menagerie

The Unabashedly Weird: Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton’s “making bones, taking draughts, bearing unstable millstones pridefully, idiotically, prosaically.”¬†Not your usual trio: drums, cello, and bass clarinet. And not your usual music. Boundary-less, tangential, sly, the music here invites you to find deep meaning in the improvised meanderings, or none at all. The Straight-ahead: Pianist Brad Whiteley’s...

The Fable of the One-Handed Pianist

Every person with an email inbox and an enthusiastic mother has seen the video by now. No doubt your mom sent it to you, subject line: This Is SOOOO Inspiring!!! Thanks to mothers like ours, it didn’t take long for the clip, a five-minute segment from “America’s Got Talent,” to go viral, amassing more than...

Experimental Documentary: “True Hallucinations”

Based on the autobiographical memoir by the groundbreaking author, lecturer and psychonaut Terence McKenna, the experimental documentary “True Hallucinations,” by filmmaker Peter Bergmann, knits together nearly three hours of consciousness-raising McKenna audio recordings with psychedelic imagery and music. The movie itself becomes a kind of trip, a journey to the subconscious and the edges of...

On the Glide Path to Nirvana

At a somewhat advanced age for such youthful pursuits, you’re playing your first-ever organized chess tournament. You’ve entered the Los Angeles Open, along with about 400 other brilliant nerds, many of them teenagers and younger. In fact, every generation is well-represented here. There are players as young as 5 and as old as 90. Indeed,...

Wasting Your Vote

With elections looming this week, it seems as good a time as ever to revisit the badly misunderstood concept of Vote Wasting. The standard lie, perniciously attractive to uncritical thinkers, is: When you vote for someone who “can’t win,” someone from, say, the Green Party, you’re¬†wasting your vote. Therefore, the flawed reasoning goes, one should...

Johnny Otto’s “Water & Spirit”

The new show from Los Angeles-based artist Johnny Otto contains colored pencil drawings, guerrilla art on cardboard, and a series of large paintings on canvas. Each work employs two or three primary colors mixed with white and black, applied copiously and vigorously. The results are mesmerizing. Otto reminds us of a less busy, more focused...

One Unofficial Version of Events, Inspired by Terence McKenna

Moko the Hunter possessed all the attributes an early proto-human hominid needed for success. He was strong, strong enough to choke a wild boar with his bare hands. He was stealthy, able to blend into foliage and tree canopies like a biped chameleon. And he could wait patiently for hours, standing still as a birch...