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Events: We Wanna Tijuana, Pet Parades, Kaki King

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Aired 5/20/10

American Craft Beer week continues, pets will parade in La Jolla, and a finger-picking guitarist takes the stage at the Belly Up Tavern. We'll talk about these and other events on today's weekend preview.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Eclectic is the word for this weekend preview. We start with an event that mixes Italian movies and food, add some La Jolla surfing history, combine a piano competition and dog costumes, and blend with a day in the life of Tijuana. It's all happening around San Diego this weekend, and here to tell us about it are my guests. Maya Kroth, the editor of Where San Diego and Performances magazines. Good morning, Maya.

MAYA KROTH (Editor, Where San Diego and Performances magazines): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And Marty Wollesen is the artistic director of ArtPower! at UC San Diego. Good morning, Marty.

MARTY WOLLESEN (Artistic Director, ArtPower!, UCSD): Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks for coming in. The food and film event, just to start off really quickly, is being sponsored by the San Diego Italian Film Festival. It’s called CineCucina.

KROTH: We were practicing that pronunciation.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, we were. There are a lot of elements to this event. Let’s start with tonight’s event at MoPA.

KROTH: Well, as the name would imply, CineCucina is a celebration of film and food so there’s four short films that are screening at MoPA tonight. Have one thing in common, they’re all sort of about food. One of them looks at sort of this aging farmer in Tuscany that still does things the old way, no heavy machinery, no chemical fertilizers, no pesticides. And then there’s a couple of cutely-named shorts, “Belly-Button Breath” and “Pepperoni” that look at how two popular ingredients in Italian cooking impact the country’s culture and lifestyle.

CAVANAUGH: Now the big event is Saturday at the Birch North Park Theatre. First, talk about the films that will be screening then, Saturday at North Park.

KROTH: This – Saturday should be a really fun night. First off, they’re going to be screening a locally produced short called “Finding Strange,” and the cast and producers will be in attendance so you can mingle with them and ask questions afterwards which is always fun. But the main attraction is the feature length documentary called “Focaccia Blues.” It’s like a sort of documentary. It’s – some of it is fictionalized but it’s all based on real events about these two small town bakers in Italy that killed McDonald’s, that is they put it out of business when it tried to set up shop in their town of Altamira, and the townspeople, I guess, preferred their focaccia sandwiches to the Quarter Pounder with cheese.

CAVANAUGH: I wonder why? Well, now the food element of this on Saturday is really pretty good. There’s an Italian farmer’s market and food festival in the afternoon?

KROTH: Yes. It’s called Piazza CineCucina. It’s happening on Saturday from 11:00 to 6:00 right behind the Birch Theatre in North Park, and they’re going to be doing chef demonstrations and showcasing artisanal Italian food and drink. There’s going to be live music. And it’s all free and open to the public.

CAVANAUGH: But how much are tickets to the event for the actual screenings in the evening?

KROTH: It’s $15.00 in advance or $18.00 at the door. And I hear that they only take cash or check.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see. But you do get discounts for restaurants as well.

KROTH: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Isn’t that true?

KROTH: Yes. There’s about 11 North Park restaurants that are participating in this thing so if you show your ticket stub, you can get deals like 10% off at Urban Solace or a wine pairing class at Splash wine bar, an interactive tasting of cured meats and sausages at the Linkery, or one of my favorite desserts of all time will be discounted with your movie ticket, it’s the Stone Smoked Porter Milkshake at Ritual Tavern. It is the yummiest thing I’ve ever had this way.

CAVANAUGH: Well, okay. This really is a blend then of Italian film culture and food culture. It’s the CineCucina. It takes place Saturday night at Birch North Park Theatre. An aperitivo of short Italian films screens tonight at the Museum of Photographic Arts. Marty, the Museum of Making Music is screening a documentary Friday night called “They Came to Play.” What is it about?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, it’s a film about the Van Cliburn Competition and the Van Cliburn Competition is one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world. But this particular documentary is actually about the amateur competition that the Van Cliburn Foundation puts on. So they are following folks who, at some point in their life, veered away from their artistic passion as their profession and I think, as one character says, this is what happens when life gets between us and our dreams.

CAVANAUGH: I didn’t even know they had that aspect of the Van Cliburn Competition. Does it follow the personal stories of individual competitors?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, it actually does. And, in fact, it follows several but the competitors in the competition are folks from 35 years old to almost 80 years old. They’re businessmen, they’re tennis players, they’re folks in education. And in many cases there’s folks who’ve battled adversity, you know, in their choices around profession, around drug addiction, or AIDS or political asylum.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

WOLLESEN: So it’s a really fascinating story about the travels people take to follow their passion.

CAVANAUGH: In addition to this documentary, there’s also an exhibit on view at the museum. What will people see there?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, the – What I want to say, first of all, about this museum, a lot of people don’t know about this museum.

CAVANAUGH: Right, right.

WOLLESEN: It’s really a beautify gem in San Diego for anybody who loves music or listens to music. And the exhibit that’s on currently is called “On: The Beginnings of Electronic Sound Generation.” And that particular exhibit is going to be focusing on the period between 1900 and 1965 when some of the really innovative thinkers like Leon Termen and Leo Fender and Les Paul worked to harness electric energy to produce new sounds. So, really, with the advent of electricity, artists were able to gain a whole new sound palette, use those tools to control volume and sort of really control their own sound and tone so…

CAVANAUGH: And you can see the instruments on display?

WOLLESEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s going to be some of the iconic electronic guitars showing, a huge variety of design and instrument shapes that are incorporated with the new materials that were happening during that time. And there’s electric, and electric acoustic guitars, of course, but there’s also the first with electric zither or banjos or violins, basses, keyboards, amplifiers, so really looking at how technology changed the way music was made and developed.

CAVANAUGH: So you can see “They Came to Play.” That screens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday at the Museum of Making Music, and also the exhibit on view at the Museum of Making Music. Maya, we’re coming in on the end of American Craft Beer Week but we didn’t want to miss it entirely. Everybody loves craft beers these days, don’t they?

KROTH: They do. It’s like beer is the new wine or something.

CAVANAUGH: What happens during American Craft Beer Week?

KROTH: I’ll give you one guess, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Yes? Anything else?

KROTH: Obviously, people are drinking beer but that happens all the time. No, breweries and bars around San Diego and around the country are going to be having specials, events crafted around, you know, just beer releases and things like that.

CAVANAUGH: Now the Coronado Brewing Company will have their Barley Wine on tap in addition to craft beer. What do you know about it?

KROTH: I know that it’s 9.2% alcohol.

CAVANAUGH: Whoa. Whoa.

KROTH: Barley wines typically are high alcohol kinds of beers and Old Scalleywag is the name of the newest one from Coronado Brewing.

CAVANAUGH: And is there enough going on during American Craft Beer Week to keep the new San Diego Beer Blog and beer lovers busy?

KROTH: I think so. I mean, it’s – You say that it’s American Craft Beer Week and people in San Diego kind of roll their eyes because every week is…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

KROTH: …craft beer week in this town.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KROTH: Pretty much, you know, any day of the week you can find something going on in the specialty beer world.

CAVANAUGH: But it’s nice to acknowledge it anyway. American Craft Beer Week is going on as we speak and ends on Sunday. The waveriders surf history, the La Jolla Historical Society’s having this exhibit called “Waveriders,” Marty. What is it about?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, well, you know, most folks are familiar with surf and surf culture that generated in the fifties and sixties but this specific exhibit is going to focus on the very early days of surfing in the early thirties and forties in San Diego and the La Jolla area, through oral interviews and histories, personal collections and images and artifacts of some of these early watermen.

CAVANAUGH: Who were some of the surfing legends of the time?

WOLLESEN: Well, you know, it’s – actually what’s interesting about this exhibit is it’s not really so much about the legends, it’s about the everyday Joe that was out there in their backyard. This was a time, it’s almost hard to conceive, where there were no surf shops, there were wetsuits, there was, you know, they were just creating in their backyard this surfing culture and really are the pioneers of what our culture is today in San Diego and how we think about San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: What other ways was surfing different back in the beginnings of surfing in La Jolla than it is now?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, again, I think that the thing that was so hard for us to imagine now is that everything that is around us and available to us because of technology and manufacturing just did not exist back then. Again, these were the very beginnings of surf culture and pioneers here in San Diego, literally, you know, in their backyard, making boards and discovering new ways of hitting the waves and getting out there in the surf.

CAVANAUGH: What will people see at this Waveriders exhibit?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, there’s going to be stories and images about the beach and beach life at that time. There’s going to be a display, actually, of classic boards, which will be really interesting because it’s going to show the evolution from paddle boards to the first true surfboards.

CAVANAUGH: Ah.

WOLLESEN: And there’s going to be images and stories of some of the young men who brought surfing to La Jolla.

CAVANAUGH: “Waveriders: Perspectives on Surfing in La Jolla, 1930 to 1950” opens tonight at the Wisteria Cottage in La Jolla. Maya, a very impressive guitar player is coming to the Belly Up on Sunday night. Tell us about Kaki King.

KROTH: Kaki King, she’s a singer/songwriter and guitarist, originally from Atlanta but she was discovered while busking in the subway in New York City. And she’s only about 30 years old but she’s already incredibly revered among guitarists like Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, and she was the first woman to make it on Rolling Stone’s list of Guitar Gods back in 2006.

CAVANAUGH: She’s got some pretty unique approaches to playing the guitar. Tell us about some of them.

KROTH: Well, she’s a finger style player, which means that she uses her fingers to pluck the strings rather than a pick or rather than strumming. So she taps the strings, she slaps them, she hammers them, and she started out playing drums so she’s got this really percussive kind of style on guitar. I saw her early in her career when she was still mostly an instrumental player and it was just amazing. She was this one-woman show, just up there with her guitar but she made waves and waves of sound as she played, you know, quote, unquote, drums, she played guitar, she had baselines all just out of one instrument using loops and things like that.

CAVANAUGH: Now she actually does a lot of film scores as well, is that right?

KROTH: She does. Most notably she worked with Eddie Vedder on the score to “Into the Wild” and won a – got a Golden Globe nomination for that work.

CAVANAUGH: Kaki King has a new album out. It’s called “Junior.” And, Maya, what do you think about it?

KROTH: You know, I was a fan of Kaki’s early in her career before she started singing so I’m still sort of enamored of that instrumental vibe but the last couple albums she’s released, she’s also been singing and she does have this very pretty, breathy kind of ethereal voice. So I’m still warming up to the idea of her as a singer as well, but I think this album’s going to grow on me.

CAVANAUGH: Do you think her voice works with her guitar work?

KROTH: It really does, yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, let’s hear her. Let’s hear a song from that album, “Junior.” It’s – This is Kaki King with “The Hoopers of Hudspeth.”

(audio clip of Kaki King performing “The Hoopers of Hudspeth” from the album “Junior”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s guitarist Kaki King, singing and performing from the album “Junior.” And I’m wondering who – what kind of music fan really would enjoy Kaki’s show?

KROTH: Well, I think that the guitar nerds out there, the hardcore pedal fanatics would probably really enjoy the technical aspects of her playing. But as you can hear, you know, her melodies are pretty accessible to just the average music fan as well. And in the past in her career, she’s worked with producers like John McEntire from Tortoise, which is a sort of a more indie rock, post rock band. So I think she sort of has wide appeal.

CAVANAUGH: Kaki King plays the Belly Up Tavern this Sunday night. Marty…

WOLLESEN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …a pet parade.

WOLLESEN: Yes, absolutely.

CAVANAUGH: It’ll take place in La Jolla this weekend. Tell us about it.

WOLLESEN: Well, this is the second annual pet parade in La Jolla and it’s supported by SNAP, which is the Spay/Neuter Action Project, to create awareness and support for spay and neutering of pets. But it’s going to include vendors, entertainment, one of my favorite activities, doga yoga, which – or doga yoga, I probably should say…

CAVANAUGH: Doga yoga.

WOLLESEN: …which is stretch with your pooch. And, of course, the parade will kick off at 11:15 with celebrity grand marshal Scott Chandler, who’s a pro big wave surfer, so we’re going on our surfing theme.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

WOLLESEN: And, of course, pet contests and judging.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I must admit I’ve never been to a pet parade…

WOLLESEN: Then you’ve been missing out.

CAVANAUGH: …so what can people expect? Do people dress up their pets?

WOLLESEN: Absolutely. Does the sun rise in the east and set in the sun? People dress up their pets. And they’re going to have competitions for Cutest Canine, Most Unique Pet, my favorite, of course, is going to be the Dog Who Most Looks Like Their Owner.

CAVANAUGH: I like this, yeah.

WOLLESEN: And Best Dressed Surfer Dude-doggy. Best Dressed Surf Diva Doggy, and Best Pet Trick. So…

CAVANAUGH: Are there floats?

WOLLESEN: Well, this is the second annual so it’s really sort of in development but, you know, I think this is going to just grow and grow and grow because, as you know, people love their pets and pets love their people. And I think every year it’s going to get more and more creative.

CAVANAUGH: Now do dogs get all the glory here or if you have a cat, can they participate?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, well, you know, the hegemonic dominance of the dog is still primary, as you can tell by the awards but there’s going to be cats, birds, any pet is welcome. And so I would encourage all you non-dog owners to get out there and be part of the parade and show your stuff.

CAVANAUGH: And what kind of vendors take part in this La Jolla Village Pet Parade?

WOLLESEN: Sure, well, there’ll be all kinds of great pet-centric festivities. There’s going to be folks who are hawking pet supplies and collars and costumes and all sorts of things but there’ll also be someone who’ll be doing pet portraits, which will be a lifetime keepsake for anyone. So gotta check it out. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

CAVANAUGH: And if you look like your dog and…

WOLLESEN: Go to that contest.

CAVANAUGH: The La…

WOLLESEN: And you need the portrait.

CAVANAUGH: The La Jolla Village Pet Parade takes place on Sunday from ten to two in downtown La Jolla Village. So, and, Maya, we move on now to a very cutely and uniquely named event: We Wanna Tijuana. What is it?

KROTH: It is a great name. It’s kind of like a Tijuana appreciation day and it’s being organized by a group of concerned San Diego State students that have been banned from going to Tijuana in the course of their studies. The California State University system has instituted this ban in response to the State Department’s travel advisory on Mexico but, as you can see, it’s particularly of impact to us down here on the border. So students are not being allowed to take classes in Tijuana or go on field trips to the city or participate in cross-border research in an official capacity but unofficially, you know, they can’t be told what to do so to show that Tijuana is not the war zone that some people may think it is, the San Diego State students are inviting professors, friends, family, the general public just to spend a day down there, unofficially, and enjoy the city.

CAVANAUGH: That’s fascinating. What’s the itinerary for the day?

KROTH: It starts off on Saturday at 12:30 with a press conference at the border and then it moves onto Teniente Guerrero Park in downtown TJ for a little picnic, complete with piñatas and soccer with the neighborhood kids, and then a walk down to the cultural district of Pasaje Rodriguez, which has a lot of galleries and bookstores and coffee shops, and down to Plaza Santa Cecilia to listen to the roving musicians that are around there.

CAVANAUGH: What kind of galleries are there in the new arts corridor in Tijuana?

KROTH: This Pasaje Rodriguez is a really interesting…

CAVANAUGH: Yes, right.

KROTH: …little alleyway. It’s got about two dozen small spaces that used to be stores that would sell tchotchkes and other touristy things to Americans but since so many of those types of stores have closed with the downturn in tourism, a group of Tijuana artists saw opportunity there and they converted them into studios and alternative art spaces for all kinds of genres, local painters, sculptors, photographers, performance artists, graphic designers. And they said they’re even going to try to do like Art Walk style events in the alley.

CAVANAUGH: Now what kind of food options will this We Wanna Tijuana group have?

KROTH: There’s going to be a group dinner at a place that has yet to be announced but before that there will be myriad opportunities to grab, you know, street tacos and ice cream and snacks.

CAVANAUGH: And is there a nighttime We Wanna Tijuana?

KROTH: Oh, of course.

CAVANAUGH: Of course.

KROTH: You can’t have Tijuana without nightlife. There’s – If you’re not up for the nightlife or you’re tired, there will be an opportunity to sort of make your graceful exit before the sun goes down. But if you do stick around, the night portion will start at La Mescalera, which is sort of called TJ’s coolest bar. It just got a shout out in the LA Times, of all places, and they have dozens of different flavors of mescal, which is a tequila-like liqueur. They also serve chapulines. Do you know what those are?

CAVANAUGH: No.

KROTH: Fried grasshoppers.

WOLLESEN: Oh, yum.

CAVANAUGH: Ahh…

KROTH: Traditional Mexican bar snacks.

WOLLESEN: I’d rather see them in the pet parade.

KROTH: Grasshoppers who look like their owners?

CAVANAUGH: How much does this all cost, Maya?

KROTH: It’s my favorite price. It’s free.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, yes.

KROTH: But you’ll have to pay for your own food and things like that, bus fare, so it’s not a bad idea to maybe change a few pesos before you go.

CAVANAUGH: Gotcha. Okay. We Wanna Tijuana takes place this Saturday, and for more information you can go to the We Wanna Tijuana page on Facebook. Now, Marty, we don’t – we have hardly any time to talk about this but I thought that we should at least mention the Museum of Contemporary Art holds an open house tonight. What does that mean for visitors?

WOLLESEN: It means it’s free, free, free.

CAVANAUGH: Aha!

WOLLESEN: So from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. you get an opportunity to see some of the great art in the exhibit there that’s – right now, which is 25 years of local art collecting that’s built up the collection over the years at the museum, everything from photography, sculpture, site specific installation, video work, it’s really terrific stuff.

CAVANAUGH: And the exhibit is called “Pleasure Point,” right?

WOLLESEN: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: And it’s sort of like this mass of different mediums?

WOLLESEN: Yeah, absolutely. All sorts of artists including Cindy Sherman, Ana Mendieta, Yasumasa Morimura, a lot of fantastic artists that local collectors have really built up and created a place for an exhibition here in San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: I’m so glad we were able at least to mention this. “Pleasure Point” is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Their open house is tonight from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. And as Marty said, it’s free, free, free. I want to thank you both so much. Maya Kroth and Marty Wollesen, thank you so much.

KROTH: Thank you.

WOLLESEN: It’s just great to be here.

CAVANAUGH: And These Days is produced by Angela Carone, Hank Crook, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, Sharon Heilbrunn, and senior producer is Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our production assistants, Jordan Wicht and Rachel Ferguson are graduating from SDSU, leaving These Days. They have done a wonderful job. We wish them much luck in the future. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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