At the Sports Center, the Spinning instructors play songs, as opposed to the gay-disco/BPM approach you hear at a lot of gyms; the recurrents at this place include “Vertigo,” “Hey Ya!” and “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”—you get the picture.


Yeah, It’s L.A. Marathon Weekend, but Stumbling Toward the Finish Line Is Nothing New to the Chronically Lame Planner Posse
Some of the regulars will be absent this weekend from Spinning sessions at our gym, the Sports Center in Toluca Lake, because they’re running the L.A. Marathon on Sunday. Whoa. That is big-time commitment to fitness, intensified by an obsessiveness that characterizes Type-A personalities in all walks of life and sport. But for those of us who’ve worn out every shred of knee cartilage from years and years of daily runs, Spinning is the obvious low-impact alternative, along with doing laps in the pool (if you’re hearty enough to handle the chill of diving in and scrambling out in 40 degree weather). The cool thing about Spinning is that it’s a lot like dancing: you’re moving in sync to a groove, and with the right track it can be truly motivating, as you discover that final 5% you didn’t even know was in you until that moment. It’s a good feeling. At the Sports Center, the Spinning instructors play songs, as opposed to the gay-disco/BPM approach you hear at a lot of gyms; the recurrents at this place include “Vertigo,” “Hey Ya!” and “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”—you get the picture. TC, who’s a makeup artist in real life, has impeccable taste and manifests it in every class. We’ll never hear "Bittersweet Symphony," “Jungleland” or “Love Lies Bleeding” again without working up a serious sweat. Derek generally takes a thematic approach; he’ll do 50 minutes of nothing but Stones, or Stevie Wonder, or ’60s Motown. In his 6:15 session this morning he mixed it up, juxtaposing "Baba O'Riley," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Love the One You're With" and Edwin Starr's little-heard "25 Miles." Sydney plays edgy rock, in keeping with her tatts and ’tude (she's heavily into American Idiot these days), while 21-year-old Essie always closes with Kiss or Bon Jovi (we can’t tell whether she’s being ironic or simply loves “Livin’ on a Prayer”). Sean is all-out classic rock—a couple of young female novices recently laughed their way through Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise,” and he couldn’t figure out what was so funny. Gohar is from Armenia, and her music leans toward the exotic, though she’ll sprinkle in Squeeze and Talking Heads. Recently, most of them started coming in with their iPods, having made up playlists for their sessions, and they all love getting CD compilations of new and cool stuff, which inevitably enhances our Spinning experience, not to mention that of our fellow participants, as the instructors load the tracks they think will work into iTunes. Happily, several of the instructors are hooked on our pick for the year’s most infectious track, Ben Lee’s “Catch My Disease,” and so far it’s passed every road test—you can tell cuz the mirrors lining the walls steam up and the Spinners go “Whoo!” when it’s over. We can’t wait to lay some of the upcoming Spoon album on them; “The Way We get By” went over like gangbusters three years ago; wait till they hear “My Mathematical Mind.”     

Given that 50 Cent’s sophomore album, The Massacre (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) was released five days early on Thursday and is on track to sell upwards of a million copies through the weekend, it’s fitting that The Infamous Times, a new quarterly, music-driven DVD news magazine, decided to move up the release date of its debut edition, which tackles the story behind the superstar rapper’s moniker, by five days as well. The two-hour Volume I: The Original 50 Cent (Vision Plant Pictures/Czar Entertainment) delves into the life of notorious Brooklyn criminal Kelvin “50 Cent” Martin, whose pastime was robbing and killing some of the biggest hustlers on the street during the height of the ’80s crack epidemic, and from whom the current 50 Cent took his name. Hosted by journalist, actor and convicted felon Bonz Malone and featuring Tone Boots (MTV’s Direct Effect) and Griff, the series aims to clue kids into the real hazards of street life and contrast them with the glamorization of thuggery in movies and TV. “We’re taking everybody to task—the politicians, the parents, the young generation,” says Boots, while Creator/Executive Producer Jimmy Henchman (who also manages The Game, Mario Winans, and Black Rob) says, “This story is very dear and close to me, because I knew the original 50 Cent.” Volume I, which has already shipped Platinum, was shot by video director Froi Cuesta and features a driving original soundtrack throughout. Future editions of The Infamous Times promise to highlight more “infamous characters, illicit institutions and dangerous locales from Chicago to Compton.” Says Boots, “We need to continue to hit these alleys and these gutters and these streets and make sure that we’re still representing what’s out there the way it needs to be represented.” —Jon O’Hara

Friday (March 4)
6:00-8:30 p.m.
Friday night wine tasting under the stars: Start off the weekend with vino and hors d'oeuvres. Maple Drive, 345 North Maple Dr., Beverly Hills (310) 451-7600. Tix: $30 advance; $39 at the door

9:00 p.m.
Tsar, OK GO @ Spaceland

9:30 p.m.
The Game @ Vault 350

11:00 p.m.
Fresh off inking their deal with Velvet Hammer/Columbia Records, Republic will be hitting the stage for the first time this year at the Viper Room.

Saturday (March 5)
1:35 a.m.
Kings of Leon on Last Call With Carson Daly (NBC)

7:30 p.m.
Check out the Clips as they battle the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center. I know it sounds weird considering both teams haven’t had great seasons, but this is a must-win game for both teams as they chase the reeling Lakers for the final playoff spot.

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Peddler on the roof: Shop for bargains at this funky flea market atop a onetime Hollywood movie studio. Sunset Gower Studios, 14385 N Gordon St Price: $5

3:00 p.m.
Watts Towers Art Center, 1765 E 107th St, (at Graham Avenue), South Central. This mass of spiraling tiles, broken bottles and more than 25,000 seashells is quintessential folk art.

10:00 p.m.
Pull out your dancing shoes…uhhh, I mean bowling shoes, and check out the revamped Studio City bowling lanes. Pinz Sports Center. 12655 Ventura Blvd.

All day long
We wish our own Je-c a happy 23rd birthday.

Sunday (March 6)
2:00 a.m.
The Original Pantry, 877 S Figueroa St., Downtown. Old-school diner with steak, chops, all-day eggs. Open 24/7.

7:50 a.m.
Why you would be up this early on a Sunday is beyond us, but if you are, check out or participate in the LA Marathon.

10:00 a.m.
The Kettle, 1138 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach. It’s all about the bran muffins.

2:00 p.m.
The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., above the 405. It won’t cost you a cent to see what a really rich dude gazillions of dollars building.

9:00 p.m.
Brazilian Girls, Something for Rockets @ the Knitting Factory

Tuesday (March 8)
7:00 p.m.
Limebeck and Hello Goodbye @ the Whisky.

Be Cool
Starring: John Travolta,
The Rock, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Harvey Keitel, Andre 3000, Steven Tyler
Synopsis: Movie mogul Chili Palmer sees a friend killed while he's at lunch, and when he visits the wife of the deceased, he pitches himself as her new business partner, hoping to enter the music industry. Chili takes on a would-be pop star as a client but soon finds himself dealing with Russian mobsters, an incompetent manager, and other complications.
Thoughts: it’s the sequel to Get Shorty, which I loved, and it boasts an all star cast—no wonder this movie has been on my must-see list for a long time. Although the early buzz is that this movie isn’t any good, I am not listening. Hey, a friend of mine told me Eternal Sunshine wasn’t any good, either.

The Pacifier
Starring: Vin Diesel,
Lauren Graham, Brittany Snow, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett
Synopsis: Shane Wolfe is a Navy SEAL who has to leave his usual military work to take on his most dangerous assignment yet: protecting the five crazy children of a recently assassinated government scientist.
Thoughts: Hmm…what to say? I’m a big Vin Diesel fan, but I don’t know if he can pull off this role. That said, I still want to see this movie, if only to satisfy my curiosity.

The Jacket
Starring: Adrien Brody
, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kris Kristofferson, Brad Renfro, Daniel Craig, Kelly Lynch
Synopsis: A veteran returns home to Vermont suffering from amnesia. He's then accused of murder and sentenced to life in an asylum, where doctors put him on a heavy course of psychotropic drugs and lock him in a drawer. Through this process he appears to be able to visit the future, where he meets a woman who might be able to save his life.
Thoughts: Honestly, I’m up in the air on this one. It has the potential to be a totally awesome psychological thriller, but it could also stink. The trailer is very odd, and it’s hard to get a real grasp on whether this film is just a total mess or brilliant.

Ray Charles, "What'd I Say?":
That undulating and shifting Hammond B3…or is it a Fender Rhodes? [You're getting warmer, HollyEd.] Pillowy wads of chordage rising from the beat like so much dust being churned up in the heart of coitus. Frenzied. Frenetic. Freewheeling. Fromping. And when Charles turns his vocal chords inside out, it's a whipchoppuree job that'll Waring Blender you with the intensity of its witness. Considering it's a dance number, a silly song about the way people move, want, blow it up…something nominally important, or so THEY say; it's got the kind traction that'll tear up a mountain top. Put it on, let it roll, laugh 'til it hurts—and jump and shake 'til you can't no more. Instant attitude adjustment; just pin the meters.

Tobias Wolff, Old School: The man who gave us the brilliantly turned autobiography This Boy's Life tries his hand at fiction. The result is every bit as eloquent, as elevated, as from the insider perspective as the wonderful book that put Tobias Wolfe on the map—and gave the young Leonardo DiCaprio a breakout role that mattered. Here, between the narrow clearance of classlines and obligations, a sketch of how the privileged and entitled live up, cave under and occasionally fail the pressures of their status is cast as the tableau to embrace the realm of young men coming into their own in an elite secondary school with its own caste system. The language alone is thrilling, the tale both cautionary and chillingly insightful.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: In the blink of an eye, you know. You DO. And then you start thinking about it. And out-thinking yourself. And finding yourself in pretzel logic that leads all kinds of places. But in that first moment of almost-beyond cognizant recognition, the truth lies—and The Tipping Point's Malcom Gladwell returns with a well-written, thoroughly explored examination of the mind's deepest reality check. Blink thinking could set you free. Read and learn.

The desk staff, Sunset Marquis, West Hollywood: It was a disaster. A miscommunication the day of the Golden Globes—my checkout being the following day, the hotel unable to keep me. There was no time to do anything except throw clothes in a bag, detangle the nasty seaweed that becomes my hair when in need of cut-and-color, get to the car to make the live TV shot with the client. The desk staff never flinched. Only seemed to feel genuinely bad that they were going to have to put me out. And while I shrieked and tried to pull it together, the young women manning the desk found me not one, not two, but three rooms when the Beverly Hills/(West) Hollywood/Santa Monica triangle was beyond sold out. They were calm, unflappable, quick to respond—and they even tucked a note from a friend I couldn't speak to in the lobby as I hurtled to the car in my bags which had already been sent to storage. Every hotel should have a frontline like this one, with the oh-so-rock & roll (shhh! SssHhhh!!!) rooms that wrap around the pool.

CC Adcock, Louisiana Marquis (Yep Roc): Slinky. Serpentine. Stinging. Staccato. Very phonky, yet swinging like a jukejoint on the verge of explosion on a particularly frenzied Saturday night. CC Adcock has that retro-hipster-kewl that oozes from his pores, drips down his fingers, stains those nicotine-fingered-chords and permeates the choppy harmonica blasts that tatter up some of his more jumpin', jonesin' numbers, especially the hormonally-loaded "I Love You," the voodoo sneak-beat of "Stealin' All Day" and the bad-woman-rue "Y'All'D Think She'd Be Good to Me," with it's "yi-yi-yi" echo chorus. Guest production from the late Jack Nitzsche on one track, Doyle Bramhall II on two—and a tight little combo that pops like a real tight snare drum. Go, cat—or gator—go!

Million Dollar Baby: Rocky with a double X chromosome in the lean, lithe form of Hillary Swank, again busting down the prevailing perception of female roles and what beauty is. Clint Eastwood slouching toward redemption, craggy, broken, doubtful, striving. Two people seemingly past their prime working against the odds—and, at times, each other. The power of a dream to sustain, the will to go on and the reason destiny chases some like a dog in the night. To feel emboldened, empowered, embraced by something greater, this is all you need.

Starring Doja Cat, Nipper and Ms. Larry David (5/13a)
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. (5/14a)
Beam us up, Uncle Clive. (5/13a)
Todd gets in. Finally. (5/13a)
She also reviews the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers. (5/13a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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