Arts & Entertainment

Hiatus Weekly Calendar

All tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497 or by going to http://www.ticketmaster.com unless otherwise noted. 5 Thursday STEVE WHITE with percussionist STEVE TOMAI will play the blues at Dizzy’s. Perfomances start at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Cover charge is $5. Call (858) 270-7467 for more information. UGLY DUCKLING brings together old-school hip-hop with a funky jazz flavor. With beats that are reminiscent of Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples, UGLY DUCKLING will be at `Canes Bar & Grill. Tickets are $10. Local San Diego group BUCKFAST SUPERBEE will be at The Casbah for their CD release party. Just think, lots of guitars and high levels of energy. Tickets cost $7. Call (619) 232-4355 for more information. 6 Friday Groove to Latin jazz at Dizzy’s with KOKOPELLI featuring Turiya Mareya and Dave Millard. The sets are at 8:45 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The cover is $8 and the phone number for more information is (858) 270-7467. ATERCIOPELADOS means “”The Velvety Ones”” and this Coloumbian group has brought together the fire of Latin American music with a trip-hop-like groove. This velvety group has been nominated for a Grammy in 1997 and 1998. They will be at `Canes Bar & Grill at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are $20 apiece. 7 Saturday The MIKAN ZLATKOVICH QUARTET with special guest Joe Marillo will be at Dizzy’s. The shows start at 8:45 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. with a $8 cover charge. For more information call (858) 270-2467. With their Brit-pop sensibilities, the American quintet, GUIDED BY VOICES, hits you with great pop sound guaranteed to get your feet moving. They will perform at the Brick By Brick and tickets are $14. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. If you’re in a ’70s-funk-dance-soul kind of mood, GOLDFISH will provide you with that and more. They will perform in the Belly Up Tavern at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $7. Led by the unmistakable voice of Richard Butler, the PSYCHEDELIC FURS will perform at the Cannibal Bar on Mission Blvd. This London group made a huge splash in the ’80s with their unique sound in the New Wave movement. Their best songs are classics on the ’80s radio stations. Tickets cost $35 and for more information call (619) 220-TIXS. 8 Sunday Jazz it up at Dizzy’s before you get ready for the week with saxophonist DICK McGUANE, trumpet player PHIL TAUBER, piano player LYNN WILLARD with BILL ANDREWS on bass and MIKE HOLGUIN on the drums. The show start at 7 p.m. and the cover charge is $5. For more information call (858) 270-2467. 11 Wednesday AT THE DRIVE-IN has cancelled their show at `Canes Bar & Grill. Explore “”Feminine”” bodies at Price Center Ballroom B at 4:30 p.m. The event will feature Judith Halberstam, Daphne Brooks, Kathy Jones, George Lipsitz and Lisa Yoneyama. Event is free to the general public. 12 Thursday VENICE will be at the Belly Up Tavern. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $12. ...

Whatever Happened to the Hollywood Classics?

The majority of movies released today seem to have a sole purpose: to sell tickets. And what types of movies sell tickets? The movies full of gratuitous violence, nudity, sex and special effects. Every once in a while, however, one might be lucky enough to stumble upon movies worthy of praise, but even these movies do not get the proper recognition they deserve. A good number of noteworthy films are produced by small companies or are independent films and are not well-publicized nor widely viewed. Instead, the films that are produced by large companies, with big-name celebrities, are the most popular, whether the actors can act. It makes me wonder about what happened to films that were actually good — the great black and white movies that had recognizable plots and talented actors. With vast technological resources and a large pool of willing actors available, one would think that the film industry would be able to produce better films, yet it still can’t. The lack of good films, with the exception of those that somehow manage successfully to incorporate technology, good acting and a well-written script, can cause one to overlook the films of Alfred Hitchcock or Leo McCarey. In our society today, many people lack the capability to recognize — let alone appreciate — classic films because of the overwhelming presence of films that are visually dazzling yet completely bereft of any real content. It is sad that some people only know of Alfred Hitchcock for “”The Birds”” or “”Psycho”” and believe that he only made horror movies, or that some people do not even know who Humphery Bogart or Gregory Peck are. The ’50s were a landmark time in Hollywood history as an interval between present-day technological Hollywood and the historic silent film era. It was during this time that many talented actors and actresses, writers and directors were able to use their talents to utilize the available technology to produce remarkably touching, exciting or long-lasting classics. Films such as Tennesee Williams’ “”A Streetcar Named Desire”” or “”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”” showcased popular actors such as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor in roles that were complex and in films that were disturbing yet remarkable. In contrast, there are the perennial feel-good classics such as “”Roman Holiday”” or “”An Affair to Remember,”” starring the ever-popular Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Alfred Hitchcock was a genius at combining romance, suspense and mystery in films such as “”Spellbound”” and “”Suspicion.”” In order to preserve these film classics, people must watch them. Many of these classic films are being lost annually because so few care about these films that efforts to preserve them are diminishing. There are only a few organizations that participate in preserving classic films, and they will not continue to do so unless the public actively shows that they want these films to be preserved. So show these organizations that we don’t want these films to disappear by renting classics like “”To Have and Have Not”” or “”Sayonara,”” or call the cable company and demand Turner Classic Movies. ...

Film Reviews

Chocolat Chocolat :: “”Chocolat”” blends reality and fantasy in a depiction of a French town seemingly devoid of passion. This begins to change as single mother Vianne (Juliette Binoche) comes in with her daughter (and the wind) and proceeds to open up a chocolate shop at the same time Lent begins. The conflict arises when Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) recognizes the presence of temptation in Vianne and her chocolates (which have various magical attributes). Soon a battle ensues between the purity of willpower and the sinful pleasure of giving in. The film features strong performances all around, though special mention should be given to those who take their characters up a notch. For example, Judi Dench was excellent playing Armande, the landlady renting out to Vianne. She’s enjoyable in that gruff, live-while-you-can way reminiscent of “”Grumpy Old Men.”” Also, Molina’s personal struggle with temptation as the pious Comte de Reynaud is as real as it can get. He fights against desire for the town but it’s clear from the beginning that he’s fighting for himself as well. The narrative style and presence of fantasy give the story a fable-like edge. The issues Chocolat contends with are ancient. It’s the solution proposed that is unique. There’s a reason this film was nominated for Best Picture — see it. — Eric Dean Enemy at the Gates :: “”Enemy at the Gates”” does well in presenting a picture of a war-torn time but struggles with details of individual characters. The setting is Stalingrad, 1942. The Russian army is depleted and falling fast to the Nazis. It lacks hope and a hero. That hero becomes Vasili (Jude Law), a humble sniper. Eventually, he is opposed by his Nazi counterpart, Konig (Ed Harris). The winner of their snipe-off will turn the tide of the war. In addition, there is a love triangle involving Vasili, Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) and Tania (Rachel Weisz), a triangle of which Danilov gets less than 60 degrees: Tania does not love him as he loves her. The movie loses points for wasting Harris’ talents — Darth Maul had more lines. It also fails to play up the love triangle. Fiennes has the most intriguing character, yet he never gets to confront Vasili and Tania at the same time. I got tired of the eyeball shots, and the originality of sniping lost its flair after an hour. I actually found myself wanting to see more love stuff and less sniping. That’s where the best acting was. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s empty-colored vision of crumbling Stalingrad, several intense war scenes and the suspense between sharpshooters were all plusses. Also, Vasili and Tania’s sex scene occurred in a unique and provocative way — based on its location. The Russians were the good guys for once, too. This picture just might be worth a shot. Pun intended. — Eric Dean ...

The People vs. Shawn Green

What happens when law enforcement holds a personal grudge against a citizen? The answer is the violation of constitutional rights. Take the case of Shawn Green’s “”Campin’ Trip”” back in 1997. This event was billed as a two-day event with reggae, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and dance music. The festival included international foods and arts, pro skateboard demos, inline skate and bike vertical ramps demos, laser shows, and the amenities of the Stage Coach Trails RV Park, which included pools, volleyball courts and camping. The event was meant to be peaceful and orderly and was to be held in the small community of Shelter Valley, near Julian. If the event was a success, Green would then try to create an annual event at the site. As a law-abiding citizen who had faith in law enforcement, Green went to every length to run the event completely within the letter of the law, doing whatever was asked of him in order to facilitate working with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. He went through the proper channels to obtain all the required permits and tried to address the concerns of the community members of the area. The event was illegally shut down by sheriff’s deputies, and at the core of this action was a local deputy’s personal quest to see that his community was kept free of “”undesirable”” elements, regardless of the legality of his own actions. These are the accounts of a citizen’s right to party. MARCH 1997 Six months prior to the event and slated for Sept. 20 to Sept. 21, Green brought his intentions to the County of San Diego. He sat down with resident deputies and the proprietor of the facility and expressed his desires for the event. “”The immediate response out of the deputies, especially resident Deputy Ralph Rinder, was that this constituted a rave,”” Green recounted. “”And the County of San Diego would not tolerate any raves, but nevertheless, they gave me the name and number of the permitting department and the people I had to talk to in order to legalize the event.”” Green describes the process of moving through official channels as “”the daunting task of facing probably 12 to 15 different agencies, with unknown delays trying to discourage me from doing the event.”” His frustrations began because “”others who were doing similar events didn’t have to go through the same hurdles that I had to.”” Furthermore, Green says that “”the sheriff’s department did not want the festival, and I always felt there was communication between the sheriff’s department and the permitting department.”” Hostility arose among a small section of the community, who were friends with the local sheriff’s deputies, as they felt that Green was going to attract “”undesirables”” because he was bringing hip-hop and reggae musical acts. They were concerned that he could not control 5,000 to 10,000 “”unruly”” patrons, who would bring out-of-control drug use, drunk driving, property destruction and disrespect for the community as a whole. Green says he was seen as an outsider bringing in big city attitudes to a small community. Yet Green maintained that “”any business owner has the right to run a business anywhere, as long as it is done legally and with the proper permits.”” Green found that he was bringing in a festival welcomed by the majority, but a minority was opposed. That minority had the connections to law enforcement agencies through local deputies, whom they were agitating. Nevertheless, Green continued to complete the required permits and move forward with the planning and booking of the event. AUGUST 1997 About a month before the concert, there was so much hostility from a group of about 10 families that Green volunteered to go to a town meeting in Shelter Valley where the party was to take place. On Aug. 6, 1997 he attended the meeting, which was the largest in the history of Shelter Valley. Green’s aim was “”to address the issues and concerns of the citizens.”” The meeting was quickly turned into what he describes as a “”witch hunt.”” He recalls the attitudes of the townspeople as “”Who the fuck are you coming out to our town, bringing a rock concert, a punk concert, an acid-rock concert?”” He found that the event was being labeled everything but what it was. The residents tried to point out that Green could not control the “”undesirable people”” and that he could not keep the patrons within the camping site. Green continued to petition the County of San Diego and the sheriff’s department, reminding them that the majority of people wanted the event to continue as planned. However, there were a few who could not be satisfied. Despite the opposition, Green had done everything to ensure a safe and legal event for the patrons and the community members alike. During that time, Render continued to refer to the event as a rave. “”Coming up to the date of the event, I continued to receive information that the event was still being referred to as a rave,”” Green said. “”So finally I called the deputy at home, but it was to the point that I thought it was going to damage the event. I didn’t want people thinking it was a rave, and also it put law enforcement in a position that meant I would be doing something illegally.”” Green tried to plead his case rationally. “”Look, what you’re doing to me is wrong,”” Green said. “”You cannot label my event a rave, because it’s not a rave. Doing so will cost me money and damage the event’s attendance.”” Green recalls Rinder response: “”Well, Mr. Green, that’s my feeling, and regardless of what you tell me, I think that this event is a rave. But if you can jump through all the hurdles, and that’s IF you can, then you can have your party.”” As things proceeded, the motions of legality were upheld. “”A couple weeks before the event I was introduced to Sgt. Ken Prue, incident commander over the whole event, meaning that he was going to supervise all the deputies, the patrolling and the responses to the event,”” Green said. “”I was told by Prue, who treated me as a professional, that [law enforcement officials] cannot and would not come onto the site. Furthermore, that if I needed any assistance from the Sheriff’s Department, that I need to call a certain number.”” Green saw this as a turnaround in the process of getting the festival put on. “”I felt that was great,”” he said. “”I felt really good about everything, and despite Rinder, I thought I was developing a relationship with the sheriff’s department that would ensure no interference with the event, and that would be helpful in the future.”” Green went on to discus safety plans for the event. “”I informed Prue that I was bringing in Elite Security from Qualcomm Stadium and that I would have 40-plus guards on duty during the concert. As attendance grew, we would bring more security members onto the site to ensure the safety of all.”” The response from Prue indicated that this was fine. He reiterated that law enforcement could not and would not go to the event site; that Green and Elite Security would be the eyes and ears of the sheriff’s department. This greatly pleased Green, as he says, “”because if I display a safe event, and did everything by the books, then the next go-around of getting permits wouldn’t be such a difficult task.”” DAY 1 of the Campin’ Trip Festival Saturday, Sept. 20, 1997: The gates officially opened at noon, but some people, between 200 and 300, had been waiting since the night before. People had driven long distances. Green heard of people coming from “”as far as Salt Lake City, Utah, to enjoy the festival,”” which was uplifting news for Green. “”It looked really good. There was a great response from the people waiting in line,”” he said. Noon to 4 p.m.: There were more than 150 cars arriving every hour, with an average of three to four patrons per vehicle. Most had camping gear, and Green noted their demeanor as “”very positive, very excited about the event. The music was going, we had three stages — it was a really nice day. Everything, for me as a promoter, was just coming together seamlessly, and that feeling was incredible.”” Smooth operation was especially important when there were so many elements and issues on the line, including multiple bands over two days, vendors and performers. After 4 p.m.: It was around 4 p.m. that a person came to Green, highly agitated and rattled. He informed Green that at the last turn onto the last road (Stage Coach Road), sheriff’s deputies and border patrol agents had set up a roadblock and checkpoint. This was set up as a search for illegal immigrants, but the exit off Stage Coach Road heads south, not north, going against the reasoning for that excuse. People were being pulled out of their cars without their consent, patted down, their belongings removed and searched and drug dogs were being taken into the cars. The officials were turning people away, saying the event was canceled, or sold out, or that tickets were $50 and parking $25. The rumors and lies were endless. So many people had respect for law enforcement, as did Green at that time, that they believed what they were told, turned around and went home. From the time that Green was informed of the situation, attendance was directly affected. After 4 p.m., attendance went from 150-plus vehicles every hour to a dismal 20 to 30. Green realized that “”with headliner acts going on at 9, 10, and 11, if this traffic flow continues, then I’m a bust financially. It’s over!”” “”Not surprisingly, he said, “”it never got better at all.”” Some did continue to pass through, but the flow stayed at about five to seven cars every 15 minutes. “”Those that did make it through and were able to perceive enough to get to our gate came into contact with law enforcement at the check point, went through the experience and continued on, only because they did not believe what they were told by law enforcement,”” Green said. “”Mostly, this is because they had some kind of personal connection with the event and did not hear that it was canceled, so they wanted to see for themselves.”” Others made it through the checkpoint because law enforcement was so busy with vehicle searches that the cars were able to slip through without notice. More interesting is that there were those, like Green’s father, whom Green said “”looked conservative enough, as a white male in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, that he was allowed to go through without any sort of search.”” “”Ninety percent of the people at that check point were subjected to illegal searches,”” Green estimated. While all this was happening at the checkpoint, deputies started to enter the facility on dirt bikes, contrary to what they had said would happen. Then they entered and occupied the event site for 14 consecutive hours. They raced around the park, kicking up dirt and breaking the 5 mph speed limit. Rather than driving in any sort of safe manner, they maintained speeds of 20 to 30 mph throughout the park and around people. In what Green believes were attempts to intimidate, deputies were staring down patrons, coming into contact with people and upsetting everyone. As people later testified in court, they were made to feel very uncomfortable and always had to watch out for the reckless deputies. Prue and several other deputies came into the site with Ford Broncos and patrol cars, all of this without the necessary consent of Green, which was directly the opposite of what he had been told by officials. Green was left to ask himself, “”What is going on?”” “”I am being betrayed for what I had done, and the efforts I have put into this event,”” Green answered. “”What I was told by the sheriff’s department was not the truth, and they had some kind of goal, some kind of plan to destroy the event by way of their ‘checkpoint,’ and by way of their harassment.”” Green tried to continue with the event, but while people were performing, the sheriff’s helicopter did multiple fly-overs “”at what I estimate to be an altitude of about 300 to 400 feet, which is extremely low.”” At this height, debris and dust were kicked up constantly into the crowd and onto the stage. Green began to get reports from the bands about feedback in monitors and of being completely drowned out by the helicopter. The extreme noise and its problems helped to push Green over the edge. “”I just threw up my hands and realized that this was a disaster,”” he said. “”There was nothing I can do but try and continue my responsibilities as a promoter.”” The strong-arm tactics began to weigh more heavily on the event and on Green as people began to take their frustrations out on him. The endless question of “”Why?”” was central: “”Why can’t you do something about the check point?”” “”Why can’t you do something about the deputies?”” “”Why can’t you do something about the helicopter?”” “”Why are we being treated this way by law enforcement?”” Sunday: With $15,000 worth of bands to perform on Sunday, not a single deputy or border patrol agent was in sight. “”The damage had been done,”” Green said. “”They knew that Saturday night was the big push for attendance.”” And then on Sunday it was all over — no checkpoint, no one in the event site, nothing. 2 p.m.: Time to pay the talent and the service providers, which brings a menacing realization to Green. He is over $80,000 in debt because the event’s attendance was so low. “”I didn’t get anywhere near the attendance I needed,”” Green said. “”I needed 3,200 people to attend, but I had about 800 paid attendees.”” Green said that the border patrol testified that “”approximately 250 cars came through the check point every hour,”” which easily would have supplied Green more than the necessary attendance for a successful event. The Aftermath: In trying to figure out what legal action he could take against the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Green attempted to obtain an attorney. It took several attempts before Green found Mike Marrinan, who was actually willing to put forth the effort needed and would not be intimidated by the authorities. It would be three years before the case went before a judge. Then, after a mere three-week trial, with two days of deliberation, the jury would return a unanimous verdict: The San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the County of San Diego, with named sheriff’s deputies, primarily Prue, were found guilty of violating Green’s First and Fourth Amendment rights, along with state claims, including negligent interference with prospected economic advantage, and awarded the full $1.5 million, as requested by Marrinan. The verdict was a decisive emotional victory for Green. “”It was incredible to know that what they did was wrong,”” he said. The power of the verdict was also in the fact that the case was such a credibility contest between Green and San Diego law enforcement. “”That’s what it boiled down to,”” Green said. “”Who did they believe? I mean, they put up 15 deputies, and the jury didn’t believe any of them.”” Now: Post-trial motions were heard on March 26. Unsurprisingly, the County of San Diego has not admitted its guilt. The county is requesting a new trial and reductions in the verdict. The countly also claims there was an error in allowing hearsay, and that cumulative damages were overlapping, so there should be only one award. Green and Marrinan have filed countermotions. Now the judge is doing further research on the issue and should return his findings in the next few days. If all of the county’s motions are denied and the verdict is upheld, the county can try to settle with Green or take the case to the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court. If the county’s motions are granted, Green has to face the financially and emotionally daunting task of taking the case to the next level of appeals, or trying to settle out of court. The Disagreement: Kevin Kennedy, a spokesman for the county and senior deputy county counsel member, told the Union-Tribune that “”The San Diego Sheriff’s Department handled itself professionally and appropriately …. The deputies did nothing wrong and they dispute that any illegal searches were conducted.”” Green feels that “”the county will most likely have [its] motions denied and the verdict upheld, which means they will come back and offer me most of the money to see if I’m willing to finish.”” Unsure of what his response will be, Green considers the possibility of spending two more years in the Court of Appeals, where anything can happen. “”That’s a gamble,”” he said. “”You don’t want them to come back in favor of the county, or possibly award a new trial, which would mean finding all the people who previously testified and trying to get them to speak out again. Those people want to get on with their lives, and so do I.”” The prospect of ending the ordeal hangs heavily as Green considers whether he will take the money the County will inevitably offer. “”The San Diego Sheriff’s Deputies were willing to pacify the few angry voices of Shelter Valley,”” he said. “”They knew that if the event was a success with the minimum estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people, as stated in my permit, I would hold subsequent events at Stage Coach Trails, and they absolutely did not want that.”” Now, after the trial, Green wonders “”why the county won’t honor a jury’s decision, and why they continue to waste taxpayers’ money to fight a fight that I feel is done and over.”” The jury foreman was a county employee, someone who would be concerned about the effect that his ruling might have on his job. However, the verdict still speaks of the level of misconduct that took place. One has to keep in mind that Green was fully within the boundaries of the law. In fact, he should have been protected by the very people who sabotaged his event. They could not deny the permits, for all the requirements were met. Instead, the officers of the law took it upon themselves to interfere with the concert as it took place. When the people who are supposed to be enforcing laws can move outside the system, we suffer. Though thankfully there were no losses of life because of the actions of law enforcement, the implication here is that those with power feel that they can do anything they want. This verdict, if upheld, could send a clear message to San Diego’s law enforcement that this is not a police state. To put this case in perspective, it is the largest verdict in the history of San Diego for Police Misconduct. Green’s willingness to fight back against the brutality of police misconduct, and his refusal to be intimidated by government scare tactics, is a lesson for all of us. We must be ever vigilant for threats to our rights. As Green said, “”The fight is for everybody in the county; my struggle is that of every promoter in the nation.”” The point is that injustice will harm us if we do not stand up against it. “”I have a right, as validated by the verdict,”” Green said, “”that a concert promoter has a right to reach his intended audience, who have the right to attend his facility without government interference, which the check point was. My freedom of speech is in part, the bands that I book to perform, not just the words that I say. A promoter may have reasons for having a hip-hop act, or a reggae act, because it is a reflection of who they are.”” As proven now in federal court, police interference with a music concert just because they don’t like it or its attendees is illegal. To Green, the ordeal sent the message “”So what? You have your permits, we’ll destroy you anyway.”” His adherence to legality is what has saved him after the fact. “”If I hadn’t had the permits, I would have won nothing,”” Green said. Ironically, Green thinks that he “”probably would have had a much better event if I had done it illegally, promoting and holding it underground style,”” which begs the question: What kind of actions are being encouraged? The legal and safe ones, or the underground and unregulated ones? My final question to Green was this: Would he hold a similar event now that he is supported by the rulings? “”I don’t know,”” Green said. “”I put my career on the line every time I have an event, and from the experiences with the police, I’m not sure that it wouldn’t happen again.”” ...

Film Review

The Mexican :: Ok, it’s got some big names, such as Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, but is “”The Mexican”” really any good? Surprisingly, yes. With some good acting and a spicy mix of mobsters, romance and Mexican folklore, “”The Mexican”” pulls together to make for a worthwhile flick. The hard-headed bagman Jerry (Pitt) is forced to retrieve a priceless gun from Mexico while his overemotional girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) leaves him and runs off to Las Vegas. Jerry heads to Mexico and Samantha gets kidnapped. Throw in some twists and turns, and you have your movie. As the story unfolds, the history behind the cursed gun is told in a corny but strangely powerful tale in black-and-white scenes. Samantha dodges death and engages in deep psychobabble with her gay kidnapper, while Jerry stumbles through his problems like a modern-day Forrest Gump. The film ignores all genre lines and keeps the audience members on the edge of their seats in a story you can’t quite pin down. The interaction between such drastically different characters seem unlikely, but stellar performances by Pitt and Roberts create a chemistry that makes the relationship believable. The movie is like a compilation of different worlds fighting for control of the plot as the story seems to support one view of the world and then the other. From mobster murders to killers in love, you are always wondering what the real point is, what is going to happen next and what world to believe in. Tied together with the theme of love, this movie occasionally borders on cheesy but ends up being original and amusing. — Heather Clark Fifteen Minutes :: Take a small marmot, roll him into a ball and throw him down a bowling lane. You may knock over a few pins and you may have a fun time but you’re probably not going to throw a strike. That’s exactly what John Herzfeld’s image and media-probing film, “”Fifteen Minutes,”” does. Two Eastern Europeans have come to New York and are so vicious so to not only murder, but to film and murder at the same time. Their plan is to exploit the media by selling the films to the highest news show bidder. Should the murderers be caught, they will plead insanity and utilize America’s forgiving heart to escape the consequences. After all, if America can swallow the trash on talk shows, why not forgive killers? Trying to catch these two is a weak version of the buddy-cop formula in Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) and Eddie Flaming (Robert De Niro). The movie falters in its details. The title isn’t lying. There are so many top actors (a few surprise cameos) that it feels like Herzfeld was compelled to give everyone his or her 15 minutes. There is little development of De Niro’s character — including a mention of alcoholism that disappears like the La Jolla sunshine — and even less development of Burns’ character. Apparently his character dreamt of fighting fires as a kid. Now you know as much as me. What this means is that by the end, you might not care who dies, who lives, or what grand message it is you’re supposed to have gotten. Kudos to the two villains, Emil (Karel Roden) and Oleg (Oleg Taktarov) for playing killers who seem to be getting better at being bad as the movie progresses. They look like they have fun but it’s hard to tell if that should be thought of as frightening or absurd. Herzfeld’s movie tries to point a critical eye at America, and in this he succeeds. However, the lack of suspense and involvement will leave you apathetic. Rent this one, or catch it on HBO. — Eric Dean ...

Club Fais Do Do Delivers

In light of the usual images of young promiscuous teenyboppers, it seems as if there is a shortage of good or at least halfway decent underage clubs in Southern California. Even though The Epicenter in Mira Mesa deserves an honorable mention with its devotion to youth in the punk and ska scene, there are few options in our measly backyard. Otherwise, most people are heading to Los Angeles. Los Angeles has a variety of big underage clubs, although its two most popular clubs, The Playground and The Arena, are little more than TJ-style sex-on-a-dance-floor. The real problem is finding something a little more mature and a little closer to the atmosphere of the finer 21-and-over venues. If this is what you’re looking for, then you have to check out club Fais Do Do. Since its opening last year, Fais Do Do has quickly become one of the best 18-and-over clubs around. With a variety of live bands and DJs, the music ranges from Latin Salsa to alternative rock. While the music varies, the atmosphere stays a steady cool. The crowd is at ease and free to mingle with the laid-back musicians. In a creative and artistic environment, there is a lot of space to dance, watch and mingle with the many quirky personalities. Among the latest trends is Rodney Bingenheimer from the world famous KROQ hosting “”Rodney’s English Disco.”” The disco, which is meant to “”get people out to dance to different kinds of music,”” certainly does just that. The event, which is held on the fourth Friday of every month, allows the in-the-know youth to come and rub elbows with Bingenheimer. Members of “”Blondie”” and “”Hole”” have been known to make appearances and roam among the crowd. Observing the outfits, personalities, and the likes of Bingenheimer hitting on 18-year-old girls can bring plenty of amusement. So whether you want to dance the night away, listen to some interesting music or just have an exciting place to party, the drive is well worth it. Check out club Fais Do Do at 5257 W. Adams Blvd. in L.A., and come out for a little glitter rock at the next English Disco on March 23. For more information call (323) 954-8080. ...

Crossing Five Mountains

Shannon Kawika Phelps is a rare teacher who offers rarer arts. A martial artist, he has walked both the persimmon path and the thin red line. He has also traversed the world from the Northern territories of China to the ivy walls of Harvard. He was a soldier in Vietnam, an officer in Syria, a scholar at Stanford, a tourist in Hong Kong and a stranger in the United States. David Pilz Guardian But he was always a martial artist in form and practice. What Master Phelps divulges to his advanced students are not only the ancient dances of his martial traditions, but their history and relevance. Therefore, the Daruma dance is taught in accordance with a short course in Buddhist cosmology and theology. You not only perform the dance, you know why the dance is performed. However, most martial arts schools rarely give a course in comparative religion between their crescent kicks. Master Phelps and his school, the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon, take a more traditional approach. Master Phelps’ beginning students learn how to kneel “”properly”” for their first few weeks, while other institutions may have you kicking and punching by the first month. It is a humbling and authentic experience that weeds out faint-hearted students. David Pilz Guardian There is no modern definition for Master Phelps. This might be because he follows traditions thousands of years old. Modernity has overlooked these archaic lifestyles. However, one can travel back to the medieval courts of Zhou China and find the appropriate term of “”wen wu xing,”” or, “”scholar warrior.”” The scholar warrior defined himself through his actions, developed a wide variety of skills in both the arts and sciences. He was poet and boxer, doctor and swordsman, musician and knight. Master Phelps has played all of these roles in the span of his life, making him the closest modern prototype of the scholar warrior, one who practices as well as teaches. The following is an interview with Master Phelps on defining the martial arts as well as the techniques for teaching such esoteric art forms. How would you define the martial arts today? When you say the martial arts, it’s like saying, ‘What kind of automobile are you driving?’ General Motors? Well, it could be anything from a little Chevette, to a GMC truck to a Cadillac or a Chevy. So it’s very difficult to pin that down. It’s too wide a term and there have been too many angles allowed to diversify in this community. And when I say ‘community,’ I mean the Western community, American community. So you can’t answer that question directly because there are too many spokes, you see. The martial arts as they were originally taught in medieval China and Japan, they had one purpose — the ultimate concerns of the human endeavor: life and death. That’s all it was, whether it be peasants defending their village or it be samurai defending their country or nationhood. Whether they were defending or invading, it was life and death. That’s what the martial arts meant, originally. That original battlefield art was very specific; it had a very parochial purpose. But human endeavor never allows anything to only have one purpose, ultimately, so it evolves. And the different elements of the human psyche were able to take that life-and-death sequence that the battlefield arts represented and transform them into different values. They began to see the essence of the psyche from such delineations. It could be religious or leadership qualities. It could be filial piety or it could be maintaining the discipline of the village or community by using hierarchy and the respect for elders, the discipline the arts required. It could have been related, ultimately, as you see now, in the more modern period where we have a stable and more ‘civilized’ environment. Since the battlefield essences were not nearly as prevalent or as powerful as history progressed into more peaceful times, the human psyche continued to evolve around the individual, rather than the community. In those days, it wasn’t about the individual. It was about defending the village or collective. It was about the larger unit where you were just one cog in it. Well, as the individual became more important, this is what the psyche extracted from those martial arts: an emphasis on health, meditation, spirituality, form, sport, performance. All of those things are the modern fruits of what the battlefield masters were dealing with: self-defense. For instance, when someone comes into my school and they ask me what they can learn here, I ask what they want to learn. They reply, ‘I want to learn self-defense.’ Well, my first question is, ‘What self do you wish to defend?’ You see, the onus is on the student to learn. When I teach, I teach as if it were rain passing over an area of the geography. The rain is the same, but some of the little bushes take what it needs to nurture themselves, some of the larger bushes and trees take what they need to nurture themselves. But the rain doesn’t give a little here and a little there. It rains. So the way I look at martial arts, I teach it the way it was originally taught: I teach the way it was taught 200 years ago for the battlefield. I’m interested in those life-and-death sequences. I consider it such a multi-dimensional idea, which is the reason I teach it the way it was taught then. Now, I realize some people are going to be more interested in one area while others will want to concentrate on others. That’s why I call my training Wu Shan Fa, Five Mountain Method. Or in Japanese, Go Zan Ryu. And what that means is that I wish my students to climb five mountains. I wish them to climb the first mountain which is the physical, learning how to close their openings on the physical level using the martial disciplines, the movements of martial forms. But also, I want them to climb the next mountain, the sensual mountain, [which is] acknowledging the five senses, learning to become more aware of the environment around them. Then the mental level, strategy. Always learning to think ahead, constantly in as state of chess or go. Then there’s the emotional level: my values and desires and how fluctuating I become in terms of rising high or sinking low to depression. It is the mountain where you learn how to balance your emotions so they don’t give you away or, more importantly, don’t lead you into an area where you embarrass or hurt someone else. And then the ultimate level, the fifth mountain, the spiritual mountain. What is that? Well, it encompasses all the others. How so might be a little different for each student, so I try to rain the same on all five of the mountains. The physical level usually means the most for my beginning students. Physical self-defense. I say, good. The principles of physical self-defense are basically learning the same principles in all the other models, but they have tangible evidence of their success. Somebody comes at them, they defend against that. But ‘that’ can be a metaphor. That person attacking you can be a Twinkie sitting on the counter — that’s attacking you too, sometimes on a deeper level. It can be a metaphor for anything attacking you, whatever it is that is enticing you, intimidating you, threatening you. And it’s learning to have composure under pressure to learn how to deal with these obstacles. Within all of my martial arts training, the forms and movements were taught as metaphors, some cosmic and some intrinsic. So you see, now I’ve gone from the battlefield to a realm that is relevant to any event in your daily life. It doesn’t take long to get there, but it requires a proper guide. Of all these different schools, which one is teaching the proper art? Well, I have my own druthers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have my own way. However, I try to find a way to respect all of the teachings. Some teach the young people for trophy and sport. I do not. I can criticize that, but on the other hand I’ve seen these young people smile and become better citizens because of that. Other people teach it for performance and for the beauty in the art. I give them credit for that, even though that has limitations as well. Tai Chi Chuan is a good example. Tai Chi Chuan is the queen of all the martial arts, also the most ruthless if people really understood the history and tradition of that art. There’s a reason why those Tai Chi masters are so famous. It’s because they were winning. And who they were defeating were the best martial artists, the best Gung Fu masters in all of China. Masters like Fu Zhen Song were cleaning their clocks. But what we see today are the gentle movements. And what the masters also extracted from that art was another value, not just combat, but the art of proper health. The art of proper breathing and body movement, biomechanics. Other people saw value in the art of meditation, meditation in motion. All of those are true of Tai Chi: combat, health, meditation. Some people emphasize one, some emphasize others. Are they wrong? No. My own personal feeling is that when you emphasize one thing too much, it no longer becomes Tai Chi. It’s something else they’ve derived from Tai Chi. But it requires all three of the elements for the art to truly manifest. Not everybody agrees with me, but that’s where I’m coming from. I teach Tai Chi for combat whereas most others do not. They assume to teach karate or boxing because Tai Chi is too complex. I cannot do that because I feel as if I would be diluting the art. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned with the meditation or the performance. So I try to teach on all three levels. Not everyone is happy with that. How do you go about teaching such disparate styles without losing their individual integrity? How do you avoid confusing students with conflicting principles? For 12 solid years, I wrestled with these questions. My answer is this school, the Wu Shan Fa: the Five Mountains. So when I teach the Saito Ninjitsu, my students know they’re getting Saito Ninjitsu. I teach the Fu Style Ba Gua Zhang Tai Chi, and they know it’s the Fu style and how it’s different from the other forms. There are elements of the Hula. You can’t directly teach that art form, but they get a sense of what it is. The Dai Lao Hu Gung Fu — that’s another art that was developed in the temple, taught by the temple and not so easy to teach because it wasn’t about learning forms, it was about developing an attitude. It was a much more esoteric art. So what I had to do with all of these styles was find a common denominator. What is the common denominator? Each of these arts were born, bred and nurtured on the battlefield. None of them is from a studio or training camp off to the side. None of them, in any shape or form, is done for its own sake where teachers handed down certificates to students to make some money. These arts: master Fu Zhen Song, the Saito clan, the art of Lua, the Dai Lao Gung Fu — all of them had that one thing in common. They were nurtured in the battlefield. What is the battlefield made up of? Human beings. And there is only so much human beings can do with only two arms, two legs and one head. Its amazing how much we can do, but nevertheless, it does limit us as opposed to three arms or four legs. The battlefield is where men’s lives are at stake. And I’m not talking about two guys dancing around and slap boxing. I’m talking about arrows flying and cavalry charging and the real world of men wanting to kill each other — only so much is going to work out there. And the principles that survived, survived because they worked. The ones that didn’t were lost on the battlefield. You’d come home from the battle and you’d tell your sons and grandsons what were effective. Quite frankly, I think most of these other styles have a problem with that; they weren’t bred in the battlefield. They’re much newer, they come from studios and civilized peaceful environments where they became diluted into sport and competition. That’s not wrong. Those are legitimate ways of using these arts. However, there’s an older way and that’s what I teach. My job is to teach principles; to make myself unnecessary as my students begin to catch on. The Fu family and the Ba Gua arts are very similar in principle to the Saito Ninjitsu because they were formed out of the same combat environment. It doesn’t matter if was China or the Middle East or Japan or Medieval Jerusalem with the Knights of Templar. Basically, it was the same principle involved — survival against hordes of others just like me fighting and advancing. So, I see the movements in the Fu family and I see how Saito Ninjitsu, the stylings, fit into each other. Although their interpretations of combat are unique, similar principles can be found with each tradition. So when I teach Saito Ninjitsu, my students know what they’re getting and when they learn the Fu style Ba Gua, they know it’s just Ba Gua. However, when it comes to the applications, and I start showing how to break these down and make them functional, then I teach them how the two are informing each other. So the two arts — rather, all the arts within the Wu Shan Fa — are informing each other constantly. Can you comment on the Lua? Everything said of the Lua is false, especially by those who say they know the Lua. [Phelps chuckles] Lua means pit. It’s the same word for latrine so it sounds low and base. The Lua was not the warrior’s art. The warriors went out with their weapons and their shark’s teeth and had great battles. But, the Lua was not like this. It has no weapons, well, that’s not so, maybe this potted plant or maybe the musical instruments of the hula to ward off somebody. But the Lua master’s job was as a priest, he was not a warrior. He was the royal protector of the king’s court. So they were closely kept, very quiet and shy. They also practiced very privately. The true Hula master uses no weapons. He opens his palms up like this which signals, ‘come, relax.’ But he also has his hands open, to sense the world around him. You don’t mess with a Hula master. They’re magical. Their art is purely spiritual and it’s hard to beat such arts because there is such intensity in their drive. They had no fear, but they also had no desire to harm anything. So they’re good people. They also had the higher moral ground and that makes them dangerous, you know. [He chuckles again] Have you ever seen a big dog attack a smaller dog? Big dogs have the advantage unless they’re in the little dog’s territory. And for some reason, the little dog chases off the big dog. Why? Not because the big dog isn’t stronger; it doesn’t have the higher moral ground, it’s not in his territory. So even the big dog has to respect this imaginary boundary. Human beings do this too on a subconscious level. The attacker knows that he is wrong. He doesn’t have the moral ground — he knows this because he’s human. The priest understands this because he understands human behavior to a high degree. He must understand human behavior because he must understand his own. To become a priest, you must purify yourself of your own ‘behaviors.’ So, the priest already understands this about you because he’s already reflected upon himself. He sees your weakness and he can use it to either take your life or save your life. So the Hula master is also a healer as well as a teacher. The Hawaiian Lua art is about receiving energy, grace, and to use that grace to maintain dignity and propriety in the environment. A person like that is hard to beat because he has God behind him like the Muja-Hadeen of Afghanistan. The Koran has told them they have the support of Allah. The Shaolin priest is also dangerous because he believes that all his actions are meant to support harmony. He is not a warrior, but a healer. This is what the Lua master is about: grace. And I tell you, if you’ve ever been hit by a Lua master, you feel the grace. On the present state of martial arts and its future. I am very rare. These arts are very rare. These comments I’m making to you are very rare. They’re very rare not because people haven’t said something like this, but because they turn into some cute aphorism and go on to be less than what they preach. So, right now is not a good time. The arts are responding to the lowest levels of our human conscience right now. And that’s not good. But I believe good things come out of bad. It’s just not a circle of good and bad. Its more like a spiral of evolution. I preserve the optimism that my kind of teaching, my kind of traditional art, will come back and grab hold of them. If I gave up on that, it wouldn’t be there for them. But right now, that’s not what they’re seeking; they’re still seeking the fruit. There are two different attitudes in martial arts today that I look at. One is the ‘look at me’ attitude — the trophies and belts and magazines and celebrity. I’m still teaching the ‘awareness all around me’ attitude — a very different way of thinking. And when I judge a school, and I do, I’m as prejudiced as all of the other egotistical guys out there who do this stuff. I say, ‘Is he teaching “”look-at-me”” or “”awareness-all-around””?’ That I have a concern for. Right now we’re losing that battle. But that will ultimately change, but not for the whole world. I can’t fix the whole world. But, I’ll be there when somebody needs it. Plus, my students are learning so there might be six of me in the next generation. There’s always one more to carry on. Every sword I teach is double-edged. The Tengu sword is double-edged. It can either be used to take a life or save a life. Martial arts is like this. It can either undermine the best qualities we have to offer as humans or underline those qualities. If the teacher is underlining such qualities, I have no problem with the art he’s teaching. If he’s undermining them [sigh], I sometimes get upset. How do I measure that? I can only measure it through my own prism. And I may be wrong. So I have to hold even those ideas up to scrutiny as well as levity. If I do that, then all my teachers and I will get along. The master does matter in martial arts. But success is dependent on how you get to the other side. For more information on Master Phelps or the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon, visit http://tfam.com or call (858) 625-9007. ...

Biospheria Tour Reorganizes Reality

There are times when you watch a performance and you find yourself in complete awe of the entire production. Other times you feel like you missed the entire point of the performance — Biospheria falls somewhere in between. Tyler Huff Guardian Biospheria is billed as “”an environmental opera,”” but don’t let the word “”opera”” sway your initial impression. It is nowhere near an opera in the classical sense of the word. The producers of the show, Steven Ausbury and Anthony Burr, worked for over a year on Biospheria before it made its debut on the UCSD campus early in March. There are obvious references to Biosphere 2 in Arizona, which was a project that isolated a team of scientists in the world’s largest enclosed ecosystem. Biosphere 2 was intended to be the prototype for a colony on Mars and was also supposed to explore different holistic theories of ecology. It was subsequently discovered, however, that the founders of Biosphere 2 were not exactly “”real”” scientists. In fact, the founders were actually part of a theater company with alleged cult-like tendencies. Biospheria reflects the utopian themes that Biosphere 2 attempted to create and the isolation that it ultimately created. The entire production blurs the lines between art and science. What makes the production fascinating is that the entire audience is literally involved every step of the way. Dressed in plastic ponchos and armed with headphones, audience members are taken around the UCSD campus to sites that represent some of the historical moments of Biosphere 2. Groups of eight are plugged into the CD player of a group leader, and the listeners’ ears are filled with synthesized noises from nature: The computer-generated sounds incorporate the sounds of birds, frogs and water. “”The idea was to create a simulated nature,”” Burr said, “”and there are also little details according to each environment.”” So imagine yourself in a plastic poncho, wires from your headphones connected to your field leader, wandering around campus and watching Biospherians dressed in a cult-like shade of white acting out the different scenes. At first it’s difficult to digest, but it evolves into a surreal experience. The discomfort brought by being confined with other people is especially noticeable in a particular scene in which the audience is seated around a massive dining table for the Biospherians. The noise playing in the background softens to nothing and, for what seems like an eternity, the entire audience remains quiet — unsure of whether it should talk. Biospheria is the “”subjective experience of being contained and linked to other people,”” Burr said. “”The story itself raises interesting questions about utopian ideas.”” The cult-like tendencies of those in Biosphere 2 is reflected in Biospheria. The actors’ white clothes present a disconcerting image of utopia — or is it conformity? The audience is even led by a shepherd through all the scenes. Throughout the performance, the operatic aspect of Biospheria is transmitted through the headphones, as the noises are often the background music to the Biospherians’ reading of fictional diary entries, which reflect the frustration of being confined in an enclosed environment with other people. Biospheria may prove to be too artsy for many, but enter this realm with an open mind, and you might find yourself completely fascinated. If you allow yourself to be caught up with this interactive experience, you may discover the campus transforming before your very eyes. Performances of Biospheria will run every day from Thursday through Saturday. The performances start at the Center for Research in Computing in the Arts (CRCA) at 3 p.m. Admission is free and reservations can be made online at http://www.-crca.ucsd.edu/biospheria ...

Guardian Album Review

The Places“”The Autopilot Knows You Best””Absolutely Kosher Records A :: Getting away from the generic recipe for famous bands, which rely on bar chords, loud singing and cute asses, The Places, with their debut album “”The Autopilot Knows You Best,”” come up with a fresh new sound that is bound for success. Although largely unknown, this underground band is quickly gaining popularity as its undeniable talent spreads through the college airwaves. From Portland, Ore., the group is comprised of young singer Amy Annelle and her friends, who together give an urban twist to the old folk melody. With a mix of low-fi and electronic sampling, the intricate layers of music hold your attention while the product remains calming and smooth. The folk melody and lyrics are reminiscent of the type of songs your parents would have written in their hippie days. But the new edge, driven by electric guitars and the emotional voice of Annelle, let the youthful sound of these urban kids come through. Probably the best underground album this year, “”The Autopilot Knows You Best”” offers a perfect set of tunes to which you can cuddle up, watch the rain and relax in a tantric escape from suburban college life. Get this album and keep your ears open for more from this up-and-coming band. — Heather Clark ...

Warrior Spirit

Shannon Kawika Phelps, better known as Kawika (Ka-vee-ka) Sensei to his ninjitsu students, is someone you cannot help writing about in the first person. His presence affects you, causes you to look back at yourself, which is eerily disturbing, to say the least. David Pilz Guardian The course of the interview was a mental Rubix Cube for me as I tried to decipher and pinpoint what this man was all about. Journalists like to go with their first instincts; a product of their insight and stubbornness. The trouble was, there was no initial “”feeling,”” no urge to think “”car salesman”” or “”professional badass.”” Yet there was something there, something being offered. I felt as though I was either getting suckered by a mastermind grifter or I was in store for an extremely rare and surreal moment. As the photographer and I entered his dojo, anonymously located in the midst of an industrial park, we were greeted by his wife, Theodora, kindly smiling and waving us over. We sat on a small wooden bench, facing what appeared to be a shrine. It was decorated with a Tibetan rug that was blessed by two Dali Lamas, a ceremonial Tengu mask and a brass gong hundreds of years old. I did a quick scan of his biography and remembered there was no such thing as a “”quick”” look into such a nefarious life, to use his own word. Phelps was orphaned at birth and spent his childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home. He eventually settled in Hawaii and was taken in as a ward by a village of assorted Chinese, Japanese and native Hawaiians. They became his surrogate parents and helped him survive childhood polio at the age of 4. David Pilz Guardian “”The Hawaiians would massage me with their Lomi Lomi massage,”” Phelps said. “”Uncle David would show me some of his private arts, and the Japanese would massage me with their martial arts, and then the Chinese taught me Tai Chi and Qi Gong practices.”” It was here that Phelps began his journey with the martial arts. “”Back then, all the kids in the village wanted to be American and eat French fries, and ran away from their culture,”” Phelps said. “”But I was a strange kid, and I was a captive audience. So I listened to the elders. I didn’t have any friends my own age. They began to teach me what they couldn’t teach their own grandchildren.”” And by default, the orphaned Phelps had become a martial artist. Not only did such training condition his body, he began to think in the traditional sense of his elders. This caused greater alienation between Phelps and the world at hand, as he bore the face of a “”howa”” (Caucasian), but brandished an Eastern soul. “”I looked like them, but I didn’t think like them,”” he said. Phelps developed his martial arts training in its most practical form in the Vietnam War as a special forces operative. He then spent the next seven years both as an enlisted soldier and an officer in the elite Navy SEALs. Phelps then became an officer for the UN peacekeeping forces in the Golan Heights, Syria and Southern Lebanon, later working as a case officer for the CIA’s counter-terrorist task force. Not only did his training mentally discipline him to handle the general rigors of military life, it prepared him for actual life-and-death scenarios. “”There were times when you’d be alone and all you knew was that you were surrounded by enemies,”” Phelps said. “”My martial arts training gave me that edge — to feel my enemies without seeing them.”” Along with combat, the arts had given him the meditative resources to calm himself, or to be as calm as the target of bullets and brimstone could possibly be. Like other Vietnam veterans, Phelps was not treated to a warm homecoming. “”They weren’t very nice when we arrived,”” Phelps said, “”calling us names while all we could think of was, ‘Where were you while our buddies’ heads were getting blown off?’ So I said, ‘The heck with that,’ and went back to where I was happier: in Asia. Specifically, I went to Hong Kong to find a gung fu master.”” While in Hong Kong, Phelps was introduced to Dr. Chin, who knew of a Buddhist monastery in the Northern territories of China that was open to teaching Westerners. A letter of recommendation was written and Phelps waited outside the monastery for six days, until he was invited in on the seventh day. “”They took me in and lead me to this small altar,”” he said. “”After some chatting [Phelps became fluent in Mandarin Chinese while in China], they offered me a cup of tea. I was told earlier that I should offer the first cup to the altar. If they offered me a second cup, it would mean my acceptance into the monastery. “”If another cup wasn’t offered, the person was expected to make up an excuse and leave the monastery — that way, no face was lost,”” he said. Phelps was offered a second cup and was allowed into the monastery as a student, where he became a pupil under Wen Shih, master of the “”Dai Lao Hu Gung Fu,”” or “”Grand Tiger System.”” The Grand Tiger is the symbol of the West in ancient Chinese cosmology. Feared and revered by Buddhists and Taoists alike, the Grand Tiger is a sentinel, protecting innocent beings from “”Evil’s winds.”” His time in the monastery not only taught him the physical forms of the art, but the intrinsic, esoteric value as well, something that has been lost with Western commercialization. Phelps returned to the United States, where he decided to pursue his academic interests, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Chinese philosophy from Stanford University. He received his master’s degree in comparative religion from Harvard University, where his theological studies were under renowned professors Richard Reinhold and John Carmen. Phelps also studied at the Harvard Yenching Institute of East Asian Studies with Chinese philosopher Tu Weiming. He concluded his academic endeavors with a master’s of divinity from Yale Divinity School and was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1993, serving in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. Yes — he’s also a priest. “”People have a hard time relating why someone devoted to martial arts would pursue religion in such a manner,”” Phelps said. “”I have a hard time understanding why they can’t see the similarities.”” During his stay at Stanford, Phelps continued his martial arts training under Mark Saito. Shorinjin Ryu Saito Ninjitsu is a Japanese family martial art that emphasizes discipline and anonymity. He is one of only three people who hold the rank of 10th-degree black belt in Saito Ninjitsu. He is the only non-Saito through the martial art’s illustrious 1,000-year history to be granted the rank of Saito Ninjitsu Master. Along with his mastery of Saito Ninjitsu, Phelps became an authorized instructor of the Fu family Wudang arts in China. Privately tutored under Bo Sim Mark, founder of the Chinese Wushu Research Center, Phelps is the only person authorized to teach the art in the United States. What resulted after a lifetime of training and searching for the martial way, whatever that may be, Phelps integrated his training into his own unique martial style. Wu Shan Fa, or “”Five Mountains,”” is a system that utilizes elements from Dai Lao Hu Gung Fu, Wu Dang Ssu, Shorinjin Ryu Saito Ninjitsu and Hawaiian Lua. Each one of these arts is taught on its own in style and discipline, yet each is infused with one another in such a way as to make a greater comprehensive system. Master Phelps subsequently named his dojo the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon after the same monastery in which learned the Dai Lao Hu Gung Fu. After five years, his first crop of black belts is finally emerging. Of course, in the martial arts community, receiving a black belt is just the beginning. Part two of this feature will include the actual interview, as well as the master’s personal thoughts on defining the martial arts and their role in the future. For more information on the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon, visit http://tfam.com ...