An installation view of Hurtado's "Segundas" series at CB1 Gallery. The works are inspired by paintings the artist finds in thrift stores. (CB1 Gallery)
Cloris Zhang, 15, makes a point during the National High School Debate League of China championship. (Julie Makinen / Los Angeles Times)
The soundtrack: "Debate Exposes Doubt," by Death Cab for Cutie. Sure, they do great pop. But my heart belongs to their Barsuk Records label mates Nada Surf. If you don't know them: highly recommended. Start with "Let Go," a near-perfect album.
What I'm reading
The headline in The Millions got my attention: "Raymond Carver's first short story." Luckily, I also saw the overscore: Annals of Japery. A classic spoof of the hard-bitten Carver. The intro is priceless: "As it turns out, his distinctive style was established surprisingly early, as this recently-discovered story — found among the yellowing papers of his third-grade teacher at Yakima Elementary School — will attest." So many lines bought my eye, but this is a great one: "I took out a pack of Lucky Stripes, shook out one of the candy cigarettes, and put it in my mouth. The sounds of the children in the house came to me clearly now, their laughter and screams. I inhaled and puffed forth a cloud of powdered sugar." Even the commenters were funny: "Just think what a 14-year-old Gordon Lish [his famously heavy-handed editor] could have done with this."
If you haven't read Nathan Masters' "L.A. as Subject" dispatches for KCET, I recommend them. They're these great little slices of the city's past, usually with wonderful pictures. I came across this older one about when the famous streets and boulevards of Los Angeles were dirt roads. One photo shows a woman in a very large hat driving a horse-drawn carriage down the road that became Pacific Coast Highway. A 1904 shot of Hollywood Boulevard shows a jalopy traveling down a road that could be the rural America of Terrence Malick's "Badlands."
What's on my bedside table
Finally, two weeks after the modern-day "Travels With Charley" team came back from their drought road trip, I finished the book that helped inspire the journey. Although he heads back east after reaching the Pacific (like a literary Lewis and Clark), his thoughts about his home state and childhood near Salinas resonated the most for me as the book neared its end. On the terrifying majesty of redwoods: "Can it be that we do not love to be reminded that we are very young and callow in a world that was old when we came into it? And could there be a strong resistance to the certainty that a living world will continue its stately way when we no longer inhabit it?" And this wonderful anecdote about his parents' love: "On one of these oaks my father burned his name with a hot iron together with the name of the girl he loved. In the long years the bark grew over the burn and covered it. And just a little while ago, a man cut that oak for firewood and his splitting wedge uncovered my father's name and the man sent it to me."
What's on my turntable
Although I spend most of my time listening with headphones to Spotify, sometimes I want to hear the needle touching down on vinyl. That's why I have a turntable in my office — and two at home (one inside, and a battery-powered one outside when the weather's fine — which it usually is in Southern California). This week's vinyl: "Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell," by ... well, I guess that's obvious. I picked this up at the thrift store because I have a soft spot for both of them — and because you've gotta love the late '60s polyester duds and hair on the cover. These aren't my favorite songs by either (that would be "Wichita Lineman," which is one of my favorite songs, period), and they rush the wonderful "Gentle on My Mind," but still a fun listen.
Want to chat? Have a great idea for a Great Read? I'm @karihow on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org on email.