August 2009

Private Party: The Cove

Hipsters and PC fare fuel an eye-opening journey with real-life hero Ric O’Barry  by KATHY FRESTON / photographs by PEDEN + MUNK

I’m more than a little wrung out from the week’s deadlines and hurdles, but the leftover adrenaline is not allowing me just to be home and chill. I’m in serious need of a cold beer and some comfort food, so when my friend Janet Friesen (record producer and gal in the know regarding all things hip and knowledgeable) invites me to a screening of the much anticipated flick The Cove, I slip on my high-heel Stellas, and off we go to a bohemian concrete loft in Venice.

The other guests included Black Crowes keyboardist Adam MacDougall, publicist Lee Ginsberg, artists T. Kelly Mason and Diana Thater, photographer Erik Ian; literary agent Annette van Duren and producer Alan Sacks; filmmaker and activist Gina Belafonte; and producer Slim Ameziani. There is big hair (a fabulous Afro on a gorgeous skinny body, with an even more gorgeous thoughtful expression) and hushed talk of exhibitions in New York and Paris.

And be still my heart. In the midst of all this culture and coolness, I spot a full bar with plastic cups of champagne and various other cocktails, including the Rolling Rock I’ve been looking forward to right next to a plate of corn dogs (the kind I can eat—soy, not pork), some “chicken” satay with ginger peanut dressing and vegan mushroom calamari with garlic aoli. In the kitchen, I see Roxy owner Nic Adler—by night he runs the club, but by day he is a vegan chef—icing vegan chocolate cupcakes. It turns out that all this vegan fare is a perfect accompaniment to a film on animals.

On to the main event. We file into the makeshift screening room, and Ric O’Barry—protagonist of the film—invites us to watch the dirty little secret of what’s happening to the dolphins in Taiji, Japan, as they are harvested for the likes of Sea World. We will see the world’s smartest, most affectionate and curious animals herded into a dark fate by a group of fishermen who operate without the basest of decency. (I won’t go into it, but whoa, how did human beings get this way?) And then we’ll see how a handful of unlikely heroes storms the marine sanctum, Ocean’s Eleven style, to expose the annual ritual.

The Cove is tough to handle in parts, but Janet and I come out feeling energized. This kind of night beats a noisy restaurant or pulsating club in spades. We’ve been swept into a new world, and we’re ready to make changes. No more swimming with the dolphins. We’ll now urge friends not to buy tickets to see the sweet animals perform, and we’ll make everyone aware of O’Barry’s

I hope his passion catches on. I hope the dolphins finally get some peace, and I hope this real-life hero knows he has righted one thing that had gone terribly awry.