Kira Hooks

kira hooks

The Los Angeles-based Filipino-American singer-songwriter Kira Hooks has a beautiful life ahead of her. Based on her debut recording, “Elephant Heart,” twelve well-produced original songs that defy strict genre categorization — think “jazz and soul-inflected pop” — almost anything’s possible for this extravagantly talented musician. Hooks is a good writer, and a good instrumentalist. But her biggest asset at this point is her sensational singing voice, which has a satisfying bottom end, a sonorous richness, a texture that one either has or one hasn’t. Hooks has it. And a musical expertise and sophistication that’s hard to comprehend. She’s 20. You can experience her major club debut on December 19, at Catalina Bar & Grill Jazz Club in Hollywood.

 

Richmond Confidential

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The nice folks at Chevron are attempting to buy another election in Northern California, spending millions to defeat a Proposition that would limit the amount of damage Big Oil can do to the environment. Illuminating coverage of the underhanded shenanigans can be found not in any of the area’s large newspapers but in a maverick online portal called “Richmond Confidential.” Call it citizen journalism, call it muckraking, call it concerned constituents digging deep for the truth — what’s happening in Richmond is a snapshot of the zeitgeist: corporate criminals buying what they want while a small group of courageous “little people” fight the power.

“Revolutionary Words”

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“Revolutionary Words” is a new Social Justice Open Mic curated by yours truly under my stage persona, MK Punky. The event will feature poets and prophets in a kind and nurturing space, Elderberries Community Justice Café, where some sensational spoken word artists seen often at Da Poetry Lounge will demonstrate that the Consciousness Revolution is well underway. This is the bloodless kind, the mind revolution, each individual looking deep and changing the one and only person he/she/we are able: ourselves, one at a time. “Revolutionary Words” are those that dare to speak the truth out loud. “Revolutionary Words” are those that refuse to accept the status quo just because that’s the way it’s always . . . → Read More: “Revolutionary Words”

Grand Budapest Hotel

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Discouraged by some sniffy reviews from folks we trust, we missed Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” during its theatrical release. A long international flight rescued us from our apathy. Now, we’re certain we’ll be watching TGBH again. It’s a masterpiece. Set in the early 20th Century in a fictionalized region of Europe, the story defies simple synopsizing. Like the best work of the Coen Brothers, TGBH is utterly unpredictable, tremendously funny, and strangely touching. With an astonishing cast lead by Ralph Fiennes as a legendary concierge and sets and costumes torn from old books, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is one of the most transporting movies we’ve seen in years.

Rob Greenfield’s “Goodfluence”

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Rob Greenfield, 27, grew up in Northern Wisconsin planning to be a millionaire. He reasoned that having buckets of money bought one freedom. Eventually, he learned that the truth is precisely the opposite: money, acquisitiveness, and conspicuous consumption enslave us. Now, Greenfield lives a nearly moneyless life. His main food source? Dumpster diving. He’s dined at more than 500, powered himself through two cross-country bike treks, and never gotten ill. His latest cycle-across-America, entitled “Food Waste Fiasco,” shines the light of truth on one of our darkest American secrets: we eat half of what we make and throw away enough food to feed an entire duplicate America. Follow Rob’s adventures at #DonateNotDump

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

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It seems impossible today. But from 1973-1977, before corporate control of America became nearly absolute, the Portland Mavericks, a Class A minor league baseball franchise, played independently, without any Major League Baseball affiliation. Competing against future Yankees and Dodgers (and the giant organizations that bankroll them), the Mavs improbably ruled the competitive Pacific League, fielding an adult roster of Bad News Bears assembled with the aid of an open try-out. Their owner-leader was the actor Bing Russell, a man for whom the description “larger-than-life” is only a little hyperbolic. The sensational documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” tells his story. Whether or not you like baseball, Hollywood, or Don Quixote, Bing and his Bastards will amaze, delight and inspire.

Century of the Self

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Originally released in 2002, Adam Curtis’s “Century of the Self” was a four-part series on the BBC that examined how Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology have been employed (and refined) by the rich and powerful to control the dangerous impulses of the masses. Much of this dazzlingly entertaining yarn focuses on Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, the “father of public relations” and one of the earliest political consultants to apply advertising principles to elections and governance. Anna Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and other titans of 20th Century mind-manipulators make cameos. Throughout, Curtis makes a convincing case that our current state of hyper-narcissism and egocentrism is anything but an accident.

Andasibe Hotel

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When you’re thousands of miles away from the civilization to which you’re accustomed, a 3-star lodge in the middle of the jungle can feel like 13-stars — especially when your bungalow is tucked into the forest, where howling Indri-Indri lemurs issue “wake up calls” at dawn. The Andasibe Hotel, about four hours by car from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, achieves the perfect balance of natural rusticity and modern comfort. There’s one other fancy lodge in the vicinity, but that one keeps wild lemurs imprisoned on a small island for the amusement of tourists. At Andasibe, the living creatures (including the wealthy European guests) roam free, harmonizing with the wilderness, sleeping beneath the stars, surrounded by tree frogs, chameleons and millions of unseen insects. It’s a genuine sanctuary.

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

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Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a charming public intellectual whose accented-English, absentminded nose-wiping, and obvious enthusiasm for Ideas make him a kind of ambassador of deep thinking. In the 2012 documentary “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” directed by Sophie Fiennes, Zizek delivers dazzling deconstructions of many popular films, showing how they function as instruments of ideology and propaganda. Jaws, Titanic, Taxi Driver — they all contain subtle (and not so subtle) cues that encourage the viewer to believe and accept a prevailing ideology, much like “Triumph of the Will” worked for the Nazis. Zizek, and “The Guide” are provocative and highly entertaining, often more so than the movies he analyzes.

Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey

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What happens when one of the best series ever to appear on American television is remade with 2014 CGI technology? A cheering glimpse of What’s Possible — on television, in our brief lives, out there in the distant ether. We’re exposed to one compelling version of The Truth. “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,” recently broadcast on Fox and now streaming, is a brilliant celebration of Science, of the scientific method, of Reason’s triumph over Superstition. Hosted by the Carl Sagan of our time, Neil Degrasse Tyson, the series escorts us laypeople to the most distant reaches of our universe (and beyond), in both directions, inward and outward, answering many profound questions yet still marveling at the mysteries we’ve yet to solve. “Cosmos” is the best thriller series on TV.