Flower power in San Diego, the ubiquitous Black Keys and everything else to see, read and listen to this month
Southern California weather might not warrant an outrageous celebration of the coming of spring, but that hasn’t stopped the San Diego Museum of Art from decorating its permanent collection — which includes pieces by Matisse, Dalí, Magritte, Durand, Cassatt and O’Keeffe — with flowers every April for the past 30 years. A few weeks before the museum’s Art Alive event, local florists are asked to interpret selected paintings either literally or figuratively, and one gets to create a two-story floral sculpture to be installed in the rotunda. And that’s not even the best part. “Oh my gosh,” says museum marketing director Devon Foster. “It smells incredible.”
Back in 2010, a summit of sorts took place in New Orleans. It was between two men from different generations — one the most celebrated living Big Easy musician, the other a fast-rising star out of Nashville (by way of Akron, Ohio). The younger man came bearing a bold promise. If he were allowed to produce the legend’s next release, it would be, he said, “the best record you’ve made in a long time.”
Those men were Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, and Dan Auerbach, singer and guitarist of gut-bucket rock duo The Black Keys. The product of their cross-generational partnership, Locked Down, comes out April 3. It’s a fully assured, hard-rocking, big-sounding swamp beast slicked with an appropriate sheen of NOLA grease. And as promised, it’s as good as anything the Doctor has done in years. “For my money, Mac’s one of the greatest who ever was and ever will be,” Auerbach says. “I’m so honored to have had this opportunity.” Dr. John is more succinct: “It was way cool,” he says. “It was real hip.”
Three other worthy releases to look out for this month
Since he dissolved The White Stripes (another lacerating indie rock duo), White has moved from Detroit to Nashville; founded his own record label; nurtured a number of side projects, including The Dead Weather; and cut his first solo album, Blunderbuss, out April 24.
The smoky-voiced singer and guitarist has put out a string of well-regarded albums over the years, but it was She & Him, his collaboration with actress Zooey Deschanel, that won him a mass audience. Said audience will be relieved to know that his new record, A Wasteland Companion, out April 10, features Deschanel on two tracks.
There may be no better set of lungs in rock than those of Brittany Howard, lead singer of Southern-fried soul outfit Alabama Shakes. She’s been likened to Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, and her band’s Boys and Girls, out April 10, is one of 2012’s most hotly anticipated records.
Don’t be gulled by the title: The Story of English in 100 Words may sound like a mere Cliffs Notes-style gloss, but acclaimed British scholar David Crystal has plenty to say here. Playing off the radio series “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” his book limns the quirky history of English through 100 coinages. A few author favorites:
Fopdoodle: “At my book talks, everyone seems to fall in love with this 18th-century term for an upper-class twit (‘fop’ for dandy, ‘doodle’ for dunce). It went out of use long ago — but I suspect many feel there are enough fopdoodles around today to justify bringing it back.”
Gaggle: “One of the great things about English is our propensity to mess about with it. We’ve been coining collective nouns (as with a ‘gaggle,’ or group, of geese) since the 15th century and still play with them today. A ‘rash of dermatologists’ is a good one I’ve seen!”
Doobry: “I love words that absolutely everyone uses but usually are overlooked by dictionaries and aren’t posh or exotic enough for word books. ‘Doobry,’ like ‘whatsit’ or ‘whatchamacallit,’ is one of those great nonsense words you say when you have to say something.”
Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern may be the kings of adventure eating, but adventure cooking? Soon that’ll be the domain of restaurateur Michael Psilakis and chefs Madison Cowan and Kayne Raymond. In the new BBC America series “No Kitchen Required,” they’re dropped into remote locations to hunt and gather ingredients and incorporate them into meals that are then judged by the local community. It’s a bit like “Iron Chef” — except the contestants on that show never had to pick off an iguana from a canoe using a slingshot. Cowan admits, however, that his most bizarre challenge was something he didn’t actually have to travel halfway around the world to do: catch a live chicken. “We were running around like chickens without heads ourselves,” he says. “But we had a good time.” PREMIERES APRIL 3
“In garbage, there are no half-truths, no spin, no politics. Conquerors may plunder the riches and therefore the historical record, but no one plunders trash.” From Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash, by Pulitzer-winning journalist Edward Humes. OUT APRIL 19