Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.

I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.

At 78, Neil Young keeps doing whatever he does his way, even if it rankles critics and often baffles his own longtime fans.

In his last San Diego concert appearance, a solo show at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park back in July, Young performed a set dominated by lesser-revered songs from his vast catalog. I loved it, though it wasn’t until he played “Ohio” near the end of the show that most around me woke up.

Nine months later, Young is returning to town, this time with the reliable Crazy Horse behind him, for a show Wednesday at SDSU’s Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre. (A second concert will be performed the following evening.)

The OAT shows coincide with the release of a recording made last November at the Rivoli in Toronto in which Young and Crazy Horse reworked most of their 1990 album “Ragged Glory,” one of their best together. The new record is titled “Fu##In’ Up” after one of “Ragged Glory’s” tracks, but in Young’s traditionally unorthodox way, he has retitled that song and all but one of the others from the original album. Why? Because he can.

Also, in a very Neil Young way, for purists like himself he’s releasing the new album on Saturday as a clear-vinyl LP. Everyone living in the digital world will have to wait until April 26 for the CD release.

He once told Apple Music DJ Zane Lowe that digital sound was “that dark step where nothing is real.”

That’s Neil. Long may he rankle.

Theater

A scene from Playwrights Project's 2023 production of "Beyond Prison Walls."

A scene from Playwrights Project’s 2023 production of “Beyond Prison Walls.”

(Courtesy of Marc Akiyama)

Five plays written by inmates at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility and Centinela State Prison will be performed through Saturday in the 12th season of Beyond Prison Walls.”

The plays were written for the local Playwrights Project’s “Out of the Yard” program and will be performed by students from San Diego State’s School of Theatre, Television and Film and the Project Rebound program.

The venue is SDSU’s Conrad Prebys Theatre. The plays: “Gold Fish” by David Rico, “Beautyful” by Dontaye Henderson, “Treasure” by Mike Perez, “Home at Last” by Steven A. Gonzales and “The Bus Stop” by Henry Oliva.

Admission is free. Go.

Note: The Saturday evening performance of the plays will be streamed live on the Playwrights Project’s Facebook page.

Film

A film still from "Queen of My Dreams."

“Queen of My Dreams” is one of the films featured in Pacific Arts Movement’s 13th Annual Spring Showcase.

(Pacific Arts Movement)

The San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase is under way and will screen more than a dozen films through Thursday at the UltraStar Cinemas in Mission Valley. The showcase is preparatory to Pacific Arts Movement’s San Diego Asian Film Festival which will return in the fall.

Besides the films themselves, the showcase promises receptions and events including Saturday afternoon’s (5 p.m.) Asian and Asian American Poetry Jam.

Long before the Oscars honored films like “Parasite” and “Past Lives,” Asian cinema has been enriched by artists in front of and behind the camera. The SDAFF Spring Showcase is your chance to learn how that legacy is continuing and thriving.

Film festival

Billy Dee Williams and James Caan in the 1971 film "Brian's Song."

Billy Dee Williams and James Caan in the 1971 film “Brian’s Song.”

(Columbia Pictures)

When the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival winds up its four-day schedule on Sunday, it will laud actor Billy Dee Williams, who’s enjoyed a long and distinguished career. Though he made his film debut in 1959 (in “The Last Angry Man”) most movie fans first got to know Williams when he played Gale Sayers in the beloved TV film “Brian’s Song” 12 years later.

Williams also is well known for playing opposite Diana Ross in “Lady Sings the Blues,” for his turn as Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back” and as D.A. Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s first “Batman” film.

The TCM Festival’s theme this year is “Most Wanted: Crime and Justice in Film,” which means pictures like “Double Indemnity” and “All the King’s Men” and “The Silence of the Lambs” are among the offerings. But as usual this festival in Hollywood includes notable comedies, dramas, sci-fi flicks and more.

Check the festival schedule for screenings and accompanying theaters in the Hollywood area at filmfestival.tcm.com.

Book festival

People read books outdoors.

Authors read their books to a crowd at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in 2022.

(Raul Roa)

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest event of its kind in the country, returns this weekend to the University of Southern California campus. It’s a bonanza for readers, book buyers, browsers and lovers of the arts in general.

Among the authors appearing is poet Katie Faris, formerly of the MFA faculty at San Diego State. She’ll be reading from her book “Standing in the Forest of Being Alive” at 2:40 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s a schedule of all the speakers, readers and events this weekend at the free festival: events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks.

U-T arts and entertainment stories you may have missed this past week

Sting and Billy Joel perform in concert at Petco Park on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

Sting and Billy Joel perform in concert at Petco Park on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

UCTV

University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“Hold Fast: Climate Change and Giant Kelp Forests”

Southern California’s giant kelp forests are not just beautiful; they’re crucial ecosystems that support a wide range of marine life. These underwater forests, made of large brown algae, thrive off the coast, anchored to rocky reefs with their unique holdfast roots. This environment fosters a vibrant community of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals, making it one of the most productive ecosystems globally. Yet, they face threats from climate change, with warming waters posing unseen dangers. Biologist Mohammad Sedarat and artist Oriana Poindexter’s exhibition, “Hold Fast” at Birch Aquarium, creatively showcases these challenges. Through their art and science collaboration, they explore the importance of kelp forests, emphasizing their role in the marine world and the impact of environmental change.

“Discussion of Classic Film: ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’”

Tim Corrigan and Patrice Petro examine Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” contrasting it with Douglas Sirk’s cinematic landscapes, notably “All That Heaven Allows.” Their discussion traverses Fassbinder’s exploration of societal dynamics, dissecting themes of violence, race, class, and identity, underscored by a visual style that prominently features the symbolic use of mirrors. They delve into how Fassbinder’s characters grapple with their identities and the complexity of their relationships within a society laden with surveillance, judgment, and rigid norms that advocate isolation over unity. This profound examination sheds light on Fassbinder’s critique of social structures and poignantly illustrates the enduring human quest for genuine connection in a world that often seems cold and indifferent.

“Lip Plates: A Biocultural Journey”

In this CARTA program, Shauna LaTosky suggests that to fully understand the traditional practice of lip plates among the Mursi people in Southern Ethiopia, it’s helpful to look at the bigger picture. By using ideas from cultural keystone species and places, we can see how certain plants and locations play a crucial role not just in this unique body modification but in supporting the community’s health, social well-being, and environment. Focusing on the lomay fruit tree and specific clay pits, LaTosky highlights their significance in both the cultural tradition of lip stretching and in promoting a sustainable way of life for the Mursi.

And finally, top weekend events

Ballet Folklorico Xochipilli performs during Chicano Park Day on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Members of Ballet Folklorico Xochipilli perform during Chicano Park Day on Saturday, April 22, 2023, in San Diego, California.

(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The best things to do this weekend in San Diego: April 19-21.

Coddon is a freelance writer.

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