LA Downtown News 05-18-20

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May 18, 2020 I VOL. 49 I #20

They Love LA New website supports businesses and artists suffering during the pandemic

Staying Sane Mental health experts share tips on handling the quarantine Page 6

An Eye-Opening Experience Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld to host documentary debut online Page 10






By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

County reopens beaches, but with strict rules


os Angeles County reopened beaches May 13 for individual sports, exercise and similar physical activity. Permitted activities include walking, running, swimming and surfing. Face coverings are required at all times on the beach unless in the water and around other people, and the county urges everyone to keep at least 6 feet of physical distancing from other visitors. Once finished with an activity, all beachgoers are asked to head home. For now, parking lots, piers, boardwalks and biking paths will remain closed. Sunbathing, group sports, large gatherings, beach chairs, coolers and umbrellas are not allowed, to help ensure proper physical distancing. If anyone headed to the beach feels


sick or lives with someone who is sick, they are being asked to stay home. Find beach rules here: beaches.lacounty. gov/la-county-beach-rules/

MAY 18, 2020

Feuer continues filing criminal charges against businesses that open

Angeles, my office will continue to be vigilant in enforcing the Safer at Home Order, ensuring that nonessential businesses open only after our health experts say it’s safe to do so.” For a complete list of the 60 businesses: The 60 businesses include tobacco stores, gyms, hair salons, beauty supply stores and a car wash.


LADOT installs retail pickup parking zones

ity Attorney Mike Feuer continues his focused enforcement efforts on nonessential businesses that remained open in violation of the Mayor’s Safer at Home Order. Feuer said his office has filed criminal charges against 60 businesses. “As Dr. Fauci warned this morning, all our hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19 could be squandered if businesses violate the rules and open prematurely,” Feuer said. “Of course, all of us want to get back to work and return to our routines, and I’m extremely sympathetic with businesses that are struggling so much right now. But we will get our economy going sooner if all of us have the discipline to follow the rules now. So, as we begin the task of carefully reopening Los

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ollowing on the success of its Temporary Food Pickup Parking Zone program, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has expanded the program to offer temporary parking zones for retailers impacted by COVID-19. “LADOT is committed to supporting Los Angeles residents and businesses however we can during the current pandemic,” said LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. “With hundreds of restaurants taking us up on our offer for free Food Pickup Zones, it was only natural to extend this program to retailers so we can help stores stay in business and

keep customers safe.” Retailers within the city of Los Angeles can apply for a Temporary Retail PickUp Parking Zone at Upon approval of an application, LADOT will designate and install one or two Temporary Retail PickUp Parking Zone sign(s) within three business days at no charge to the retailer. The sign will designate a single parking spot where a customer may park while picking up items from a nearby store. Motorists will not be allowed to use a spot for longer than 10 minutes. LADOT continues to adjust operations to assist residents and businesses comply with physical distancing requirements and limit the spread of COVID-19. These include relaxed parking restrictions, deferred payment deadlines for citations, online hearing and permitting procedures, elimination of pedestrian push buttons at intersections with high pedestrian activity, switching traffic signals to “night mode” to reduce speeding, and service changes on transit lines. More information about LADOT’s response is available at

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Christina Fuoco-Karasinski CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Ivor Davis, Kamala Kirk, Eric Newman ART DIRECTORS: Arman Olivares, Stephanie Torres ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Catherine Holloway, Michael Lamb FOUNDER EMERITUS: Sue Laris


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©2020 Times Media Group. Los Angeles Downtown News is a trademark of Times Media Group. All rights reserved. The Los Angeles Downtown News is the must-read newspaper for Downtown Los Angeles and is distributed every Monday throughout the offices and residences of Downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Downtown News has been adjudicated as a newspaper of general circulation in Court Judgement No. C362899. One copy per person.


EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

At a time when the entire world is in an ever-changing state, and health concerns are paramount, you can continue to rely on LA Downtown News to keep you informed on how the COVID-19 virus is affecting your local community. We appreciate the trust placed in us as the news and voice of the community. Being good stewards of that trust means we are here for you, especially in difficult times.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Ivor Davis, Kamala Kirk, Eric Newman ART DIRECTORS: Arman Olivares, Stephanie Torres ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Catherine Holloway, Michael Lamb FOUNDER EMERITUS: Sue Laris S I N C E 19 7 2

MAY 18, 2020


Rams’ Joseph-Day brightens health care workers’ day By Eric Newman os Angeles Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day has used his platform as an athlete and public figure to raise money for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25-year-old, third-year player hosted an Instagram Live DJ session on his account to raise nearly $5,000 to benefit local health care providers. He partnered with Superfine Pizza head and founder Steve Samson to deliver pizzas to workers at Centinela Hospital Medical Center, a local hospital in Inglewood, on April 28, May 1 and May 2. “We are super excited, and we just want to thank Centinela Hospital for all the awesome hard work and dedication they’ve been putting forth to keeping us safe from COVID-19,” Joseph-Day said. “Thank you to all of our medical heroes who are battling each and every day to keep this country safe against the COVID-19 virus,” he added on Twitter. “We appreciate you. Let’s do our part as U.S. citizens and stay inside and follow these guidelines. We are all in this together.” This is not the only charitable donation Joseph-Day made. On April 16, Jo-


seph-Day donated $10,000 to Rossoblu’s Restaurant Relief to fund prepared meals for Cedars-Sinai’s front-line staff.

He was thankful to all those that participated in his Instagram event, as well as those who were willing to give money to feed people who deserve extra support. “I want to shout out all the people who participated in my Instagram Live quarantine donation party. None of this would have been possible without you guys. And


since we all worked together, we’re able to feed another hospital. So, this is awesome and we’re so excited,” Joseph-Day said. For more information on Superfine Pizza, located in Downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District inside City Market South at 1101 San Pedro Street, Unit F, visit

Rams defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day used his Instagram Live event to raise money for CedarsSinai.

Photo courtesy LA Rams




Covered help LETTERSCalifornia TO THE will EDITOR

Opposes encampment Editor: I’m writing on behalf of the residents who live and own condos at 738 S. Los Angeles Street 90014, opposite the parking lot at 749 S. Los Angeles Street. We are deeply concerned about the idea to put a homeless encampment in this parking lot. This parking lot is not large enough to house the hygiene trucks as well as the RV trailers or pallets they intend to install. So, the hygiene trucks will need to be curbside. This parking lot is surrounded by more than 2,000 homeowners and residents, some of whom are in the over-60 age group, and some of whom have health issues that will put them at risk, with the rate that the COVID virus is erupting through the homeless community. There are several restaurants directly adjacent to this lot. There are residential multistory properties alongside, behind and opposite the lot. More than 15 retail clothing stores surround the lot, and some have been in business for decades. Two large, multimillion-dollar buildings are being restored and made into food halls directly next to and opposite the site. They bring much-needed revenue and taxes into the city. Many stores that are suffering due to the COVID closures in the fashion industry will be severely impaired by having a homeless camp placed directly behind, adjacent or opposite their businesses. Some will have hygiene trucks literally parked in front of their stores. This placement decision will force long-standing small businesses to close, as there will no longer be the parking or the foot traffic to keep them going. It will damage the growth of our established community here in

the fashion district, ruining years of hard work and effort. Why is the encampment being placed in such a highly residential and retail area when there are so many less-populated sites around the city? Evidently, the LA Allegiance for Human Rights agrees with us that the site is not the right one to use. Only the LA city and mayor’s office are wanting and pushing to use this site. We feel extremely hurt that our hard work and efforts to make the comeback of a community in DTLA work are being abused and neglected. We, as a community that has been growing since 2010, should have been informed so we could have helped the city with the placement of the much-needed encampment. There are so many other less-inhabited areas that could be used that are still in the immediate Downtown area. We understand that this encampment is necessary, and we want to support the city in finding a suitable site. We have asked for the chance as a community to give ideas and input so we can help the city to find a more useful and agreeable place for the encampment. We feel—as homeowners, tenants and businesses who have, for more than 10 years, been living and working in the fashion district, who have voted and supported the city—we mean nothing to the LA City Council, the city attorney or Mayor Garcetti. Their aim should be to protect the community and house the homeless—not house the homeless by neglecting the rights of the community Josephine Borchardt

MAY 18, 2020


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MAY 18, 2020



At the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, $25 equals 100 meals. Fiora is hoping to donate up to $100,000 to the nonprofit.

The Healthiest Choice in Los Angeles! BREAKFAST BURRITO: Egg with choice of: Ham, Bacon, Sausage or Chorizo.



Photos courtesy Los Angeles Regional Food Bank


Fiora makes charitable donation to LA Regional Food Bank By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski he household paper goods brand Fiora made an initial donation of $50,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Fiora is also calling on individuals, community leaders, local organizations and businesses to share their #FeelGoodMoment on social media—from short poems and inspiring stories to photo moments of joy or feel-good songs—to further Fiora’s donation up to $100,000 in support of the food bank. Fiora will donate $5 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank for each story, up to $100,000. “We also, as part of the announcement, launched a corresponding social campaign to rally support, to extend that $50,000 up to $100,000,” said Carlos Rodriguez, Fiora brand marketing director. “The sheer scale and magnitude of this is unprecedented. It’s having a dramatic impact. The whole idea behind that social campaign is to help the community and individuals find a way to reach out and feel good. We wanted to turn those feel-good moments and inspire the community to


take action to get us connected.” Rodriguez added Fiora has deep roots in Southern California, with its parent company headquartered in Orange County and one of its three manufacturing facilities in the United States in Moreno Valley. “We’ve been so impressed by LA Regional Food Bank’s continued efforts, and we’re honored to support such a worthy cause,” Rodriguez said. Food distribution from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s two distribution centers has increased by 80% in the last two months. More than 15 million meals have been distributed since the crisis started in March. Fiora’s financial support will provide up to 400,000 meals for those in the local Los Angeles community who are most in need. “We are incredibly appreciative of Fiora’s support,” said Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “We have seen the need for food assistance spike dramatically amid the coronavirus, and Fiora sets a great example for giving back to the community.” Info:


Stay Home, stay safe. Let us deliver delicious healthy food right to your door.




Mental health experts share tips on how to handle pandemic By Kamala Kirk rom social distancing and being confined at home to other restrictions, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has presented numerous challenges that affects the mental and psychological health of people around the world. As a result, more individuals are experiencing increased stress, fear, anxiety and loneliness—which have made it harder to cope and maintain a sense of well-being. “Our perspective on time is thrown off balance during a time like this,” said Dr. Chandler Chang, a licensed psychologist and founder of DTLA-based Therapy Lab. “Focus on each day at a time and create plans that you look forward to on the weekends, even while staying at home.” Engaging in activities like work projects or quarantine hobbies, such as baking and jigsaw puzzles, can help refocus attention and offer a sense of accomplishment. “The pandemic feels enduring and uncertain with no end in sight, so when you refocus your energy on something that can be finished and checked off a list, it



gives you a greater sense of control,” said Jennie Steinberg, a therapist who owns Through the Woods Therapy Center in Los Angeles. “It also reminds you that something can be finite and not stretch on forever, and it allows you to feel a sense of completion.” Starting a daily practice of gratitude can help shift mindsets and increase a positive outlook. Chang and Steinberg recommend identifying things you are grateful for and writing them down or sharing them out loud. “People are wired to focus on the negative, and this is evolutionarily advantageous,” Steinberg said. “Things that are bad demand attention because they indicate a need for change. Things that are good can be ignored and nothing will go wrong. Practicing gratitude forces you to combat this negativity bias and focus on the things in your life that are going well.” Constantly monitoring the news and social media can also heighten anxiety and stress levels. Activities like yoga and

MAY 18, 2020

Sergio Ocampo is a psychotherapist who treats patients at Downtown Los Angeles EMDR/ Somatic Anxiety and Depression Therapy.

Photo courtesy Sergio Ocampo

Jennie Steinberg is a therapist who owns Through the Woods Therapy Center in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy Jennie Steinberg

MAY 18, 2020


Chandler Chang founded DTLAbased Therapy Lab.

Photo courtesy Chandler Chang

Chandler Chang of DTLA-based Therapy Lab conducts a teletherapy session.

Photo courtesy Chandler Chang

Helping You Stay Safer at Home During this uncertain time with the coronavirus, LADWP wants you to know that we are working 24/7 to keep your power on and water flowing. Our crews will respond to water and power outages. Call us or report an outage online at Your tap water is safe to drink. There is no need to buy bottled water. The coronavirus does not affect your drinking water. Our team members are essential city workers continuing to work hard while taking safety measures. Need help paying your bill? We can help. Visit or call us at 1-800-DIAL-DWP. We will not shut off your water and power for non-payment.

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meditation can enhance our overall experience of embodiment, where we become more aware of our surroundings and the sensations within our bodies. This also has a profound effect on the body’s vagus nerve—the longest and most complex of the cranial nerves—which regulates various bodily systems, including digestion, blood pressure and heart rate, calmness and relaxation. “Anytime you feel anxious, aggravated or depressed and want to feel more embodied, go stand in your backyard, on your balcony, by your window or you can also do this while sitting down or in the car,” said Sergio Ocampo, a psychotherapist who treats patients at Downtown Los Angeles EMDR/Somatic Anxiety and Depression Therapy. “Take a deep breath, move your neck around in different directions and look all around you, observing the various textures, colors and shapes you see. Name five sounds you hear and five sensations you feel. Practicing this daily will help you calm down and feel more well-regulated.” Another way to reduce anxiety is to focus on the present and avoid worrying about any events or issues that are more than two hours in the future. This will keep you from spiraling into scenarios of things that could go wrong. “If you think back to the hardest thing


you’ve ever been through, you may remember it as being extremely difficult— but you survived,” Steinberg said. “You took it moment by moment and did what you needed to do. When you imagine the worst-case scenario in the future, you can’t bring those resources with you into that scenario, so all you’re left envisioning is the world crumbling around you. When that happens, tell yourself, ‘I’m not allowed to worry about anything more than two hours from now.’ Then you can re-center yourself and just focus on the present.” Allowing yourself to be open to your emotions and processing them as they arise can help prevent you from getting stuck in cycles of depression or unrelenting anxiety. Chang recommends journaling, talking honestly with others and practicing self-care. “With our lives so disrupted, the silver linings are clearer than ever, even as we feel the unique stress,” she said. “Know that these emotions are intended by nature to guide us and help move us where we need to be. “As I’ve been quite busy since the very beginning of this crisis, I sometimes sacrifice my relaxation or personal time. When I reclaim that time for myself, my personal commitment is equally restorative as the physical poses. Commit to yourself and you elevate your mind and spirit.”



Artist Andre Miripolsky’s new series inspires hope for LA A

While in isolation during the stay-at-home orders, LA artist Andre Miripolsky created the “Corona Series 2020,” a collection of mixed-media art pieces, and donated a portion of funds to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Andre Miripolsky/BIX Art Group

“Corona HeartWings 07” from Andre Miripolsky’s “Corona Series Phase 2.” 22 inches by 28 inches, mixed media and stencil layer on paper. $1,100.

Photo courtesy Andre Miripolsky/BIX Art Group

Viva LA apparel is available on, and a portion of proceeds will go to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Andre Miripolsky/BIX Art Group

MAY 18, 2020

By Kamala Kirk ndre Miripolsky, one of DTLA’s most revered artists, has released “The Corona Series 2020”—a collection of artwork he created while in isolation during the government-mandated stay-at-home orders. “As an artist, I want to relate to how something in real time is happening and how that can influence my art,” Miripolsky said. “I’m always looking for inspiration, and different things trigger me. Since all the art stores were closed, I had to be resourceful, so I used the available materials that were lying around in my studio. It was a very labor-intensive process.” Utilizing materials such as metallic tape, ink, pen, spray paint and oil pastels, Miripolsky created 20 original mixed-media pieces between March and April. Produced from a single initial stencil, each work in the series features various shapes, such as blossoms and raindrops, and incorporates Miripolsky’s rich and bold use of color, texture, form and line. Through his optimistic and bold art, Miripolsky shows that life, creativity, love and gratitude are always present—even during a global health pandemic. “The designs are very busy and show a lot of movement, which is expressive of the virus because it’s always replicating and moving forward,” Miripolsky explained. “As I worked on this project, it took on its own life. When you see the pieces in person, they’re very dimensional and have a level of depth akin to a sculptural drawing.” Works from “The Corona Series” cost $850 to $950 each. Miripolsky is donating 20% of all sales from the series to the LA Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund, which will support the city’s critical needs throughout the pandemic including relief for health care workers and support for families and small businesses. “I’ve been a supporter of Mayor Garcetti for many years, and he’s doing such a great job,” Miripolsky said. “Since I created this collection during the crisis, I thought it would be appropriate to donate a portion of the proceeds. COVID-19 has affected me just like everybody else. You realize how fragile everything is—with a moment’s notice, life can change profoundly overnight.” Miripolsky, who got his big break in 1980 designing Elton John’s iconic piano key costume for his world tour, has been a major influence on the LA art scene for multiple decades. His work can be seen on murals, billboards and buildings across town, and he has received commissions from the likes of Quincy Jones and Bette Midler. In 2006, Miripolsky coined the phrase “Viva LA!,” which has evolved into a brand that celebrates Los Angeles at home and around the world. He is working with Christian Mitman of BIX Art Group on a campaign to make Viva LA the official brand of Los Angeles, in addition to expanding its community partnerships to celebrate and support the creative forces in Los Angeles. A new line of Viva LA apparel is also available, and funds raised will go directly to the LA Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund. “We’re all suffering right now, which is why we need an optimistic message and symbol to show our pride in the city,” Mitman said. “Viva LA will have such a positive impact. We want to encourage people and give them hope.” Miripolsky has been working on the second phase of his “Corona Series,” which incorporates the signature heart wings that are the symbol of the Viva LA brand, and third phase, which includes his popular catchphrase. His new work is being added to the website regularly and is also available for purchase. During the COVID-19 crisis, Viva LA is connecting people through social media by encouraging them to send in pictures taken of themselves while in isolation, which the brand will add its heart wings onto and post on Instagram. “It’s such a positive, life-affirming symbol,” Mitman said. “That’s why Andre’s art is so powerful. He makes people happier.”

For more information and to purchase Mirpolsky’s art and Viva LA apparel, visit and, Follow @vivalaofficial and @bixartgroup on Instagram.

MAY 18, 2020



Entrepreneurs love LA—and they want to help By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski os Angeles is a big city but a small community, said Alan Sartirana, CEO and founder of Anthemic Agency and Flood Magazine. He and Max Hellmann of Family Industries want to help build their community through The site is selling limited-edition T-shirts and additional apparel designed by the small businesses it’s designed to aid. From each sale, $10 will go directly to the partner to help provide COVID-19 relief for their small businesses or will be directed to their charity of choice. “It’s not a pop-up shop that disappears two weeks later,” Sartirana said. “We want to build that community and find the people who need the help, whether it’s a local coffee shop, a retail shop, a band or an artist. “There are a lot of people contributing to this thing who are helping others and a lot of people who need help as well. Flood, as a magazine, has done a lot of stuff in the community. Both of us are making sure we take care of our employees and the people around us.” Some of the charities and associated partners that will benefit from the fundraising efforts include the Downtown Women’s Center (Nick Perry), Meals on Wheels (Punch Punch Kick), LA Mayor’s Fund for COVID-19 Relief (Flood Magazine) and the LA Food Bank (Jon Klassen). Fundraising will help partners not associated with a charity to keep employees employed and their businesses running. “We need to make sure they continue their business virtually or in the real world,” Sartirana said. “We want to make sure they’re succeeding and make sure they’re thriving. Those people have families and kids. We have to come up with new ways of having income. It’s a 360 thing. You help somebody and they pass it on.” T-shirt designs vary from exclusive original designs and LA themes to limited-edition logos and stay-home messages. “It’s been a rough go for a lot of different businesses,” Hellmann said. “We first tried to do a fundraising store to let individuals put their own stores online. “Then we decided to throw one of each design from these different artists and musicians online. We have a lot of mutual partners, so we thought we would combine the strength of all these different businesses. Like Amoeba Music, they draw so many people through their store each year. They’re having issues. These people are having to scale business back 75%. We thought we’d use the strength of the connections that are here in LA to bring eyeballs to the same place to create the community in one spot.”


Hellmann said they’re considering keeping the store online indefinitely, as there isn’t a firm date on when businesses can reopen or artists or bands can perform again. “We have an opportunity to give back to the community,” Sartirana said. “People are losing their storefront businesses. This is going to impact people for a long time to come. For us, we’re fortunate that our business is able to exist. “Hopefully, we’re able to help other people’s businesses exist.” participants The participants are varied and include: Alexandria House Amoeba Music Barcade Box Union Coco Nella Craig Dickey Dayglow Divine Family Industries Flood Magazine Go Get Em Tiger Gracias California Hideaway Melon Highland Park Brewery

Homage Brewing In the Band Ivan Minsloff Jon Klassen Kid Row KYCC Leroy from the North Miriam Hellmann Nick Perry Otherwild Ozma Platefit Punch Punch Kick Scrap Lab The Rentals



Talking comedy, grief and ‘After Life’ with Ricky Gervais M

By Ivor Davis ost American viewers probably know British comedian Ricky Gervais as the co-creator, writer and star of the British television series “The Office” (originating the role that would bring Steve Carell acclaim after the series was imported to the United States), or as the sharp-tongued, acerbic host of the Hollywood Foreign Press Golden Globe award shows. He has lacerated members of the Hollywood Foreign Press as a bunch of part-time showbiz reporters and, lo and behold, he was invited back four more times so that he could unleash more blistering but funny insults. Whether you like him or not, Gervais is a talented comic, writer, actor and director. He is considered a maestro of “cringe comedy”— a kind of British version of Larry David. On HBO you might have seen him in the series “Extras.” Gervais’ irony-laced comedy can be seen in the Netflix series “After Life,” now in its second season. He plays recently widowed Tony Johnson, a cynical reporter on a fictional British weekly, who has just lost his wife—the love of his life—to cancer. Billed as a comedy-drama, at first glance it doesn’t seem to be the kind of laugh-filled prescription that might lift anyone out of the depths of despair (particularly in these days as we all battle shutdown fatigue). But it’s a hit, with one reviewer noting: “‘After Life’ has its funny moments, but it is more drama than comedy, taking seriously its exploration of loss, depression and the resilience of optimism.” “One of the most accurate descriptions of grief ever put on screen,” added another reviewer. Recently, Gervais breezily chatted about his second season via a Zoom interview from his home office—flanked by shelves overflowing with an array of awards (Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globes)—in Hampstead, London. “It’s a hit around the globe—and why not? I never doubted a comedy about a suicidal man could be anything other than hilarious,” Gervais wryly noted. “After the first season, people came up to me in the street and said the show resonated with them because they, too, were grieving. So in the new season, I incorporated much of the amazing emotional reaction from those who liked seeing grief portrayed in such a dark, comedic way. They see Tony going through a sliding scale of mental illness. After the death of his wife he decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. He thinks of it as a superpower, not caring about himself—or anyone else.” Much of the show’s appeal is helped by a diverse supporting cast of oddball characters, all of them struggling to stay afloat in one way or another. His late wife Lisa, played by Kerry Godliman, puts in frequent appearances, thanks mainly to a bunch of videos she has left for her grieving husband. Others in the strong cast include Ashley Jensen (Gervais’“Extras” co-star) as a nurse he dates; Paul Kaye, playing a selfish shrink; David Bradley as Tony’s dementia-stricken father; and Roisin Conaty as a good-natured sex worker. Said Gervais: “In the second season Tony wasn’t going to suddenly snap out of it. After the first season’s reaction, I realized that I had to treat it realistically and not suddenly say ‘I’m better’—although Tony is trying to be better.” Life after death on screen, he noted, is often treated as a taboo subject: “Depression, suicide, drinking … that’s the real world and I don’t shy away from it. Viewers who told me they were grieving say they love the show because it doesn’t have to be a heavy drama. No harm comes from discussing taboo subjects—it’s how well you do it. “I think it’s uplifting and optimistic, and it’s a show about grown-up people getting through bad stuff; a show about mundane things saving your lives … and what you miss because you can’t do it anymore.”

“After Life” Created, written and directed by Ricky Gervais Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tom Basden, Tony Way, Diane Morgan Rated TV-MA

MAY 18, 2020

Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld, far right, will host virtual parties on Thursday, May 21, to debut his band’s documentary, “Get Back Up.” Photo courtesy Chris Barber

Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld to host documentary debut online By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski inger Justin Furstenfeld said watching the documentary “Get Back Up” about his band Blue October was “eye opening.” The documentary, which debuts this month, was filmed over the span of a decade through hundreds of shows. The film traces Blue October’s rise to the top of the charts, its quick demise, and Furstenfeld’s mental health issues and thoughts of suicide. “I didn’t know half the things I had done to people until I watched the documentary,” Furstenfeld said. “It was such a liberating moment to watch people say sweet things about me and say things that stung pretty bad. That’s what life’s about—learning from our mistakes and working through them.” For a small pay-per-view fee, fans can tune in to watch the official film premiere together, post comments, and have their questions answered by Furstenfeld via a Q&A following the credits. The livestreams are 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. (PST) Thursday, May 21, via Prior to the pandemic, Blue October was on tour promoting its ninth album, “I Hope You’re Happy,” which debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s album chart. Known for its previous platinum singles, like “Into the Ocean,” “Hate Me” and “Calling You,” Blue October scored two recent hits, the title track and “Daylight.” Furstenfeld said quarantining on his 4-acre property in Texas during the pandemic has been “awkward.” “I toured 25 years of my life,” Furstenfeld said. “It’s a life-or-death thing. The pandemic has given me the chance to connect with people even closer than a meet and greet or a show. “Now I get to go in there every Tuesday night, do a show about recovery and work steps with people who want to get sober. I love that. “On Friday night, I talk about small business and music that I’m into. The next Tuesday night is about recovery, another Friday stage show for 5,000 people around the world. We’re right there in front of them. That’s what we have right now. It’s a precious, spiritual time.” The pandemic has forced Furstenfeld to step out of his comfort zone, and he’s treating it as a time to “cleanse.” “I do things I might have never done before, like jogging,” he said. “I fricking hate it. Now I’m jogging a mile and a half, 2 miles at a time. I’m not Carl Lewis, but I’m trying. I’m trying to be better and trying to do better things for myself. I’m eating clean and taking my kid to homeschooling in the living room and making sure he stays off his iPad.” Those feelings have resonated throughout his family. His daughter moved from Nebraska to live with Furstenfeld and his family. He was worried he would be on tour as she became comfortable in her new space, but the pandemic allowed him to be home. “I’m super blessed to be in a family where whenever I walk in the front door from the studio, the kids say, ‘Dad! You’re home!’” he added.


MAY 18, 2020



Bryten recalls heartbreak in ‘Remember Me’ By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski arah Dokowicz had a rough eightyear hiatus from music. She had self-worth struggles and troublesome intimate relationships but took the high road and navigated her way back to her first love, pop music. Dokowicz, who moved to Los Angeles from Australia 10 years ago to attend the Musicians Institute, has reinvented herself as Bryten. “I graduated and spent a lot of time in the music scene in LA, doing everything—performing in hotels, restaurants, colleges and a bit at music festivals. I wasn’t getting a huge return,” she said. “I was discouraged. I went on a soul search. I was just dealing with inner insecurities and doubts and things like that. It got me off course entirely.” Since her “full-on self-discovery journey,” Dokowicz is devoted to bringing light to others. Available for streaming June 5, her new single, the high-energy “Remember Me,” pays homage to her peers while covering the theme of heartbreak. It was written by Dokowicz, Alex Hinsky and Dean Palya, and produced by Palya and recorded at Pala Sound Studios in Los Angeles. “‘Remember Me’ is a track that I wrote with my friend Dean and also my best friend from the music college, Alex, as well,” she said. “It’s one of those songs that even though you see the things that are happening in front of you, you still remember yourself at the end of it. I see some-


thing negative and flip it to make it a positive experience in some sort of way.” This is the first of a number of songs Dokowicz will release this year. “I feel like I really have a lot to say but this time I’m unafraid to say them, as I know my listeners need to have a guide and a leader to say how they feel,” she said. Her previous releases were produced by Andres Torres, the producer of the Louis Fonsi hit “Despacito.” “Andres and I went to the same school,” she said. “He studied drums in the drum program. That’s how we met. He produced my first EP when I was out here. It was a DIY setup. He has his little production studio in his studio apartment, which made it way more fun. “I didn’t feel as pressured. Every time we got into the studio together, we had to catch a blast. We already knew each other, and the chemistry was really good and positive. He’s a genius when it comes to production. It’s amazing to see how far he’s come in that time period. He’s so deserving of it. He’s such a hard worker and down-to-earth guy.” For her new music, she continues to stay focused on the online space, where she wants to keep producing songs for the masses. “I believe with a clear plan and strategy you can impact the masses, and that has always been my goal with any project,” said Dokowicz, a former dancer who competed in the World Hip-Hop Championships. “I plan to do the same with this project.”

Sarah Dokowicz, who performs under the name Bryten, is set to release her new single, the high-energy “Remember Me,” on June 5. Photo courtesy Bryten




MAY 18, 2020



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