Off-season offerings in Aspen |

Off-season offerings in Aspen

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
Diva Zappa/Zappa Family TrustZappa Plays Zappa, a tribute to the music of the late Frank Zappa led by guitarist Dweezil Zappa, performs in November at Belly Up Aspen.

ASPEN – Things to do in Aspen when it’s dead:

DINING (low end): Asian noodles have been a hot item since David Chang opened his Momofuku Noodle Bar in Greenwich Village six years ago. The restaurant, which has spawned several more Momofukus around lower Manhattan, showed how enticing the low-profile noodle could be. Noodles by Kenichi is proving just how universal the concept can be. Since opening two weeks ago, the tiny space has overflowed with diners sampling udon noodles, lo mein, ramen – even their version of mac ‘n’ cheese – in curry sauces. Fat City Plaza was divided up into small spaces to accommodate small-scale shops like Kenichi’s; the question now is: How are they going to expand?

DOCUMENTARY: Michael Moore, America’s stand-up, populist documentarian, is getting somewhat more serious. In “Capitalism: A Love Story,” he takes on the most expansive topic yet – the core form of American society – and he tones down the tricks and humor, and turns up the outrage. With unabashed passion and a keen knack for entertaining his audience, Moore questions the value system that underlies the current economic collapse and a society divided ever more sharply between the haves and have-nots. “Capitalism” is showing at the Isis Theatre.

POPULAR MUSIC (downvalley): A genuine punk legend in our midst? Cool. A punk musician – any punk musician – at Steve’s Guitar’s, Carbondale’s folky/acoustic stronghold? Almost too cool to be true. But yes, Tommy Ramone – of the Ramones, who taught everyone from the Sex Pistols to X what punk was made of – is coming to the little listening room on Thursday, Oct. 22. Fair warning, though: You can leave the earplugs (not to mention the black leather and tongue studs) at home. Tommy, the drummer for the Ramone’s essential early years, is coming with Uncle Monk, an acoustic duo with singer Claudia Tienan. Still, it can’t hurt to get in Ramone’s face and demand they play “Rockaway Beach.” That would be punk.

THEATER: You can shut down the Crystal Palace, but you can’t stop the Crystal Palace performers. Operating under the motto that the show must go on (even if your stage is now a failed steakhouse), nine former cast members of Aspen’s unique dinner theater have carried on, staging their satirical, musical comedy where and when they can. This fall, the Crystal Palace Revue appears for three dates – Wednesday, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16 – in quite a nice setting, at the Little Nell’s Montagna restaurant. Expect old favorites like “Middle Aged Boy Band,” and even a new number about the surprised residents of 1599 Pennsylvania Ave. watching as their new neighbor moves into the house next door. The show includes a three-course dinner; expect the food to be a step up from the old Palace fare.

CDs: Looking for the newest, fabulous thing out there to turn your friends onto? Dawes, a Los Angeles band rooted in SoCal country-rock and led by 23-year-old Taylor Goldsmith, makes its debut with “North Hills,” an incredibly mature, affecting and up-to-date piece of music. Want something sort-of new? Try the self-titled album by Monsters of Folk, a quartet of Yim James (Jim James of My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), and M. Ward that puts the super in super-group. Care for something easy and familiar and undeniably fun? John Fogerty has resaddled his Blue Ridge Rangers for “Rides Again,” a shot of old-time country-folk that features such pardners as Don Henley and Bruce Springsteen, running through the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved,” John Denver’s “Back Home Again” and Fogerty’s own “Change in the Weather.”

WRITTEN WORD: What, you haven’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird?” I don’t mean ever, but recently. Get on board the Big Read, a national program of the National Endowment of the Arts, presented locally by the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, which is inviting all Americans to partake of Harper Lee’s 1960 classic. Don’t think of this as a dreary duty; Lee’s story of racism, justice and childhood is probably better than you remember from ninth grade – maybe even as good as your English teacher said it was. Events over the next few weeks include screenings of the 1962 film version, a book discussion at Explore Booksellers and the Halloween “Boo” Bash at the Red Brick Center for the Arts. And if you’ve never read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” now’s the time.

DINING (upscale): Just what Aspen – or any town – needs now: a super-luxe dining spot. But Il Mulino, which opens Oct. 27 in the Residences of the Little Nell, deserves some attention. The original Il Mulino, in New York’s Greenwich Village, has held the top spot among New York’s Italian restaurants in the Zagat survey for two decades. In recent years, the place has spread itself around, opening outposts from Orlando to Tokyo. Here’s hoping the vision of brothers Fernando and Gino Masci, the Italian-born founders, hasn’t been watered down. Note to first-time eaters: Bring your ‘A’ appetite.

POPULAR MUSIC (upvalley): Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa, which comes to Belly Up on Nov. 24, is not Zappa Plays Zappa, a band led by Dweezil Zappa and featuring players from Father Frank’s band. In this latest version, Dweezil is surrounded by a band of young players. But they are still playing Frank’s offbeat jazz-rock, and Dweezil is an exceptional guitarist who, one hopes, also has keeps father’s high artistic standards.

TELEVISION: What to do when you’ve crossed the line of decency so many times that nobody can tell there’s a line there anymore? If you’re Seth McFarlane, from the raunchy, ubiquitous “Family Guy,” you spin off a new show based on the mild-mannered African-American character. Deli owner Cleveland Brown, deciding he’s had enough of the boneheads in Quahog, R.I., sets out to find boneheads of his own in California – but somehow lands in his hometown of Stoolbend, Va. “The Cleveland Show” was signed for a second season before the series even debuted last month – a good sign. Bonus: Woody Creeker John Oates, along with his musical sidekick Daryl Hall, make occasional appearances as the angel (Hall) and devil (Oates) sitting on Cleveland’s shoulders. It shows Sunday evening, right before “Family Guy.”

FEATURE FILM: A decade after turning the world onto the epitome of the Unserious Dude – that would be Jeffrey Lebowski, of “The Big Lebowski” – Joel and Ethan Coen bring us “A Serious Man.” The film, which has opened nationally but has yet to hit the valley, is a black comedy but its central character does have a serious purpose. Larry Gopnik (played by Michael Stuhlbarg, best known for his work in theater) is a Midwestern professor in 1967 whose life is coming apart. Looking for clarity and faith, he turns to three rabbis.

VISUAL ARTS: The Aspen Chapel Gallery breaks a barrier with its current Bold Perspectives exhibit. The group black-and-white photography show includes nude figures – a first at the Chapel – by two local artists, Joel Belmont (who also curated) and Ken Bartle. The work is clearly intended for beauty rather than shock value – the naughty bits are even covered for the most part, and exposed at the viewers’ request. The show runs through Nov. 15.

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