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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Last Chance at Tutmania is this weekend; plus MORE. Special Edition, Jan 12 2019

LOTSA THINGS HAPPENING OUT THERE on a partly-rainy weekend! This is a SPECIAL EDITION to emphasize just ONE of those things.

Of course there's more -- like the New Year's first Americana music festival, happening on SUNDAY (while it's not raining) in Santa Clarita. And the festival is protected under cover, rain-or-shine! It deserves and receives a full write-up in our last edition, at:

All THIS WEEKEND's OTHER live arts & music is in there, too, including plenty that continues to be added late -- 'purt near continuously after that edition was originally published.

Of course we'll have a COMPLETE new edition for you very soon... really we will! But this edition is downright necessary because we don't want you to miss something wonderful that closes Sunday.

Sure, we've been telling you about it for some time now -- "KING TUT: TREASURES OF THE GOLDEN PHARAOH" at The California Science Center in Exposition Park.

But you're down to your last chance to see it.

So we present this feature-story edition that's all about it, to kick you in the pants to go. That's the subject of this entire special edition. Use the link above for everything else.

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Tutmania ends Sunday.
Go, immerse yourself in the ancient world,
and experience the art that'll dazzle you

by Larry Wines

This weekend is the final chance to see the King Tut exhibition in Los Angeles, ever. You're expecting us to invoke every cliché about dazzling art to encourage you to go. Nope. Oh, we do encourage you to go. But we take this in  altogether different directions to encourage you.
Sure, the exhibition does indeed feature three-thousand-three-hundred-year-old musical instruments. One of them has even been played publicly and its sound broadcast live OES feel like enough when you see it.

There are so VERY many dimensions to this exhibition. Seeing it. Getting immersed in the soundtrack as you spend hours reading the labels that interpret all the dazzling objects. Trying to absorb and not miss anything. Studying, contemplating, and FEELING the presence of a vibrant culture that's been gone 33 centuries. In terms we can comprehend, it's like visiting an alien world. Yet it's a world that gave birth to our own cultural roots.
It's all there if you take the time to comprehend. Even the politics. Oh, not the excruciating banality of our contemporary politics and their handy analog of the La Brea Tar Pits trapping all the noble and the humble beasts alike, alongside the predators. These ancient politics , for those who choose to focus on that aspect, are more intriguing than anything you'll find in Shakespeare's royal intrigues. You can discern politics that are as Byzantine as it gets, though they predate Byzantium. Politics that could have made Niccolo Machiavelli blush.

The political realms of Ancient Egypt -- together with its history, the names of its heroes and villains and gods and everything beyond the scale of its monuments -- were as lost to the medieval world, and to the Renaissance, as the ability to read its hieroglyphics. The digging descendants of Champelion continue to reveal a myriad of Rosetta stone moments that make the text of even a decade-old coffee table book obsolete.

The notion of slaves as builders of the pyramids? Didn't happen. The sheer wealth of their society meant paid work forces who took immense competitive pride in building the enduring monuments of their society. And no indication those government employees were left high and dry with no paychecks. It was lucrative work, building monuments, and the work force sought the jobs and worked them with competitive pride between shifts and teams, as proven by the graffiti they left.

The idea that lavishing art on tomb walls and mummifying the remains of everything from Pharaohs to cats to crocodiles represents a bunch of necrophiles obsessed with death? N'uh-uh. Ancient Egyptians -- at all levels of society -- loved life so much, they tried to take the most idealized version they could afford with them into the next world.

Ironically, the farther we get from the time of the Ancients, the better we understand them. Along with the scope and nature of their political intrigues and outrages.

One quick lesson that slaps us up 'side the head? When society falls apart, even from rot and turmoil, it doesn't necessarily mean the end. Those things happened many times, quite catastrophically and almost cyclically, in Ancient Egypt. The longest-lasting civilization of them all presents no counterpart to the down-the-drain spiral of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Egypt rose and fell, over and over, re-achieving glory each time, for two thousand years.

That's where the dazzling artistry unearthed nearly  100 years ago in King Tutankhamun's tomb -- which is truly nothing short of an encounter with the infinite -- has a head-on collision with politics.

Now, we're not talking about modern-day Egypt's tenuous governance, with detractors citing its failures as a democracy, or its struggles with those who will invoke any means to produce a fundamentalist Islamic State. Though those issues have everything to do with why this largest-ever exhibition was allowed out of Egypt.

Today's Egypt is completing an enormous new museum in Cairo with an enormous price tag, and political and social unrest in Egypt have caused tourism to take a nose dive. Hence, it's a mountain-to-Moses thing, sending some of the country's best antiquities out to make money on a world tour, with Tut serving his nation as an ambassador to lure the tourists back.

All that is just the latest chapter in the saga of young Tutankhamun -- who happens to be forever young and more than 3,000 years old.

The mystique of "the Boy King" took the world by storm in the 1920s, when archaeologist Howard Carter found a forgotten Pharaoh that other scholars didn't believe ever existed.

That he was "forgotten" was less about the sands of time than about the political paradigms invoked by all-powerful successors who chiseled his name off everything he built, and chiseled-in their own names. Usurping the works of others was a repetitive theme in a land with no copyright laws. If not each in turn, then almost serially, too damn many of the Pharonic class individually took to egocentric excesses. There's practically an archetype for the self-styled living-god-king to don uniquely unusual headgear and proclaim his illustrious self the most fabulous, most-able-to-do-everything-best, Make-Egypt-Great-Again, don't-bother-me-with-the-facts, my-predecessors-were-all-stupid, my facilities include a golden throne, I am the absolute ruler and nobody knows more than me. It followed that such a ruler was entitled to usurp and lie and proclaim his unparalleled superiority and greatness. Even while literally standing on the shoulders of giant statues whose builders' names were changed to theirs.

If that seems reminiscent, you may recall that "history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme," as Mark Twain observed.

Or you may be thinking of the George W. Bush administration rewriting history with all the presidential biographies at White House dot gov, making every "hero" president a Republican, and everyone found wanting a Democrat, in defiance to actual affiliations, philosophies, and even the founding dates of both parties.

But we said we weren't taking a sheepdip in the politics you know. And if we stopped here on our tapdance through Ancient Egypt? Well, you'd have an almost generic view of a recurring theme that doesn't come close to the central place Tut holds, and why his ostracism from the Egyptian pantheon was so crucial to his immediate successors.

The dry read of cursory history tells us that Tut lived: from 1341 BC to 1323 BC, that he was 5' 11" tall, and he reigned as one of the Pharoahs of the 18th dynasty during the New Kingdom period. In fact, he wasn't one of anything.

Tut was the last of his line. His two daughters were stillborn, their mummified tiny forms found with him in his tomb. He had no living heirs with his princess (or queen) wife Ankhesenamun, who seems to have been his lovely young -- sister. Hey, they saw incest as strengthening the royal blood by not polluting it with outside influences. They hadn't yet reckoned that incestual reproduction caused weaknesses, deformities (like the one Tut suffered), genetic collapse, and it produced idiot heirs.

But Tut's line, upon its demise with him as the final male in a patriarchal lineage, wasn't just any family that needed to be minimized or ridiculed or even vilified by a new royal aristocracy, as we see in Shakespeare's treatment of English royalty prior to his reigning monarch.

The memory of Tut was dangerous. He was not born Tutankhamun, the "Living Image of Amun," but as Tutankaten, . the "Living Image of" well, someone else. The "Aten" was the deity worshipped by Tut's father, the heretic Pharaoh, Ahkenaten. Perhaps you've seen the old movie "The Egyptian," made in the early '50s. It was a Hollywood epic with Victor Mature, Jean Simmons, Peter Ustinov, and Edward Purdom portraying Ahkenaten. And it sort-of succeeds in showing how that king got angry with a religious establishment that produced an endless assortment of gods and gaggles of priests who proliferated into a class where wealth equaled power, enabling them to fleece like televangelists.

Ahkenaten was, indeed, the first ruler of a society to pull the plug on public funding for a pantheon of gods, and proclaim the rule of one god. Though, unlike the movie, it was less about monotheism than Sun worship -- the Aten was the disc of the Sun -- and it was very much about politics and the public treasury and getting the parading religiosos off the gravy train.

Naturally, an entire class of civil servants becoming suddenly unemployed was no more popular then than it is now. Ahkenaten had to abandon Egypt's capital city, with its wall-to-wall temples, and build, from scratch, his own new capital city without provisions for the money changers or multiplex of temples. Except one temple, to the Aten. His capital, Amarna, and what archaeologists call "the Amarna period," lasted as long as he did. And to keep his kid alive, in the wake of Ahkenaten's demise, Tutankaten became Tutankhamun. Amun being the chief god who had been given walking papers, and who the priest class needed to restore to put the chess board back together.

Indeed, whatever he thought of his father, Tut did restore the old order -- at far too young an age to really understand what all that meant. Remember, religion and politics were essentially one and the same at that time.

There are tantalizing remainders of Tut's split personality. The exhibition includes his immaculate child's throne chair, with his original name and its symbols of the Aten on the back, where no one would see them.

Though Tut had a crippled foot (likely the result of interbreeding) he was often depicted in sculpture and art as youthfully vital, out there stalking and successfully hunting with bow or spear. And all that is in the exhibition, including Tut's assorted weapons, with labels describing the flowering of technology and revolution in artistic realism in the brief Amarna period.

Yet the images of athleticism conflict with a tomb filled with walking sticks. Canes that show wear on their tips. Canes which he needed, to walk. You can't help but think of Roosevelt never allowing himself to be photographed in his wheelchair.

All those canes came from someplace, and many are quite ornate. Perhaps everyone making a state visit or seeking an appointment brought him a cane fancier than the last visitor, just as emissaries bring gifts to heads of state to this day. Like the beautiful objects in the presidential museums. Or big wooden horses left outside city gates, and soccer balls that need to be checked for listening devices.

Had Tut lived beyond age 18 or so, when he died -- not in palace intrigue, but in an apparent chariot accident or confrontation while leading his army on a battlefield -- he might have warranted a big tomb. One that would have been iconic, and easy to find and plunder like all the rest.

But with no heirs, and being the heir of the heretic Pharaoh, plenty of forces conspired to literally erase his name. The final object in the Tut exhibition is a mostly intact giant stone statue, its colorful paint still in place thanks to its 30 centuries beneath the sand. Originally it was thought to have been carved by a later Pharaoh. Now its origin is known: it is Tut.

His name was chiseled-off and that of a usurper took its place. It was from Tut's Mortuary Temple, the all-important edifice where the people could go to pray to the departed god-pharaoh who could send them blessings from the afterlife. It was a two-way proposition: the deceased Pharaoh maintained immortality because his name was still spoken on Earth.

We think of that in Western culture as an Ancient Greek concept. But Alexander the Great had yet to establish the 275-year-long Macedonian Greek line of the Ptolemic dynasty as Pharaohs of Egypt that lasted from 305 BC to 30 BC. The line that ended with Cleopatra, a thousand years after Tut.

So it is -- all of it -- history's greatest irony. His legacy done-in by political intrigue... his hasty, jumbled burial in somebody else's tomb that was far too small for a Pharaoh... his name removed from everything he built... even his re-establishment of the old order something that could not be acknowledged, lest the heretical time of his father would be remembered... finally, his crucially important mortuary temple usurped, so the name of Tutankhamun would no longer be mentioned, and thus the haunting influence of his ka, his soul, would die.

And yet, of all the mighty Pharaohs whose wealth and glory were orders of magnitude greater than his, it is Tutankhamun, King Tut, who brought a popular frenzy in the 1920s when he was unearthed, a succession of celebratory Tutmania sweeps each time some possession of his tours or any new factoid about him is determined. From Zahi Hawass becoming a TV fixture to Steve Martin singing "Born in Arizona, raised in Babalonia, King Tut," it is the deliberately forgotten Boy King whose name is most associated with Ancient Egypt.

And it is King Tut, alone, whose tomb was never destroyed by treasure hunters... King Tut alone whose treasures have survived the centuries, and present themselves to us as silent, eloquent, and stunningly impressive speakers for their people, their society, their culture, their time.

We didn't even talk about how often you'll hear yourself utter "Wow!" as you encounter each new astonishment in the exhibition. Nor did we discuss how the meticulously ornate art of craftspeople from an incomprehensibly long-time-ago could have created what they did with the simple tools and technologies and techniques of their time, and how it looks like it came from an artist's studio last week, where laser carving is available. Or how it all reconciles in your mind that you are beholding the zenith of an ancient culture, and how it reaches through time to touch you as the closest thing to the infinite that human art and creativity can achieve.

Go. You have only Saturday and Sunday, then it is gone, back into the sands of time.

"KING TUT: TREASURES OF THE GOLDEN PHARAOH" is at The California Science Center in Exposition Park, 9th and Figueroa, in Los Angeles. There are extended hours through its final days, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 am-6:30 pm.

If parking and traffic are causing hesitation, skip all that and Go Metro. Take the Expo Line directly to Expo Park/USC Station and walk less than five minutes through the Rose Garden.

Getting your tickets in advance is highly recommended, to be sure you'll get in and to avoid a long line at the box office:

If it appears sold-out, check beyond the obvious. Some tickets are set aside for walk-ups.

More info, including late additions:

After Sunday, it belongs to the ages.

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That's it for this special edition
THE LIVE MUSIC and other arts events happening THIS WEEKEND (and some beyond) are in our last most recent edition. And a VERY FULL UPDATE is on the way so you won't need to keep scrolling past things from days that have passed since that last one was unleashed.
MUCH MORE SOON, plus, there's
 a very full
NEWS EDITION on the way!
Remember to slack your strings before you get on the airplane. Or ride Amtrak instead, and you won't have to worry about that.
Stay Tuneful!
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We'll be back again soon with music news
nd more "News of the Non-Trumpcentric Universe." (c)
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 Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?
 What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...
 Direct to the Guide's current editions / 
complete archive of previous editions /
 editions that load quickly, all at
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Entire contents copyright © 2019,
 Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
 All rights reserved.

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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
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