Since news first broke yesterday of the passing of legendary rock keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who co-founded The Doors in 1965 with Jim Morrison, people have been playing Doors music and sending out tributes. I never realized just how many people loved the Doors so much but such is the sign of a truly great band. Some people, upon hearing the news at first, didn't believe it and questioned if it was a hoax. Such is the ere we live in. But soon everyone found out that sadly the news was no hoax and that the greatly admired musician/author/film director, who maintained a consistent passion for his art throughout his life, had left this earth. Yesterday, Monday May 20th, the South Chicago born Manzarek died at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany following a battle with bile-duct cancer. Manzarek was 74.
While Jim Morrison - the late great vocalist and front man of The Doors - might be the first one to come to mind when the average person thinks of the Doors it was the blues rooted keyboard playing of Manzarek and his signature hooks, that also doubled as the bass backbone of the group's sound, that helped distinguish the Doors' warm sound. And the fact that the Doors even came about in the first place is thanks to Manzarek's intuition and foresight. As the story goes; following a chance encounter on Venice Beach with Morrison, who he first met at UCLA before the two film students had graduated, Manzarek convinced the future Doors front man, who considered himself a poet and not a musician, that his poems/songs would be best presented with the backing of a blues-based rock band. And the rest as they say is rock n roll history. Manzarek's soulful musicianship was instrumental in defining such Doors classics as “Light My Fire,” “Riders on the Storm,” “Love Her Madly,” and (my personal favorite) “Roadhouse Blues.”
Wah Chang was a Chinese-American artist and prop designer. Today he’s most recognized for his iconic designs on the television series Star Trek. He was born on this day in 1917 and with that in mind, it being Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, me planning on going to see the Star Trek Into Darkness tonight, and The Wrath of Khan on in the background, now seems like a good time to reflect on his genius.
Wah Ming Chang (鄭華明) was born 2 August, 1917 in Honolulu, when Hawai’i was still a territory. His father, Dai Song Chang, owned an art store and framing gallery. The Chang family moved to San Francisco in 1919 and the parents opened Ho Ho Tea Room on 315 Sutter Street, which quickly became a popular hangout for artists and bohemians. Wah’s mother, Fai Sue, was an artist and graduate of the California School of Arts and Crafts. As a young child, Wah also displayed a talent for art and at seven, he began a tutelage under artist Blanding Sloan. Wah had his first solo gallery show when he was just nine years old. His mother passed away when he was eleven and his father moved to Europe, leaving the child with Sloan and his wife, Mildred Taylor. Taylor, was a feminist writer, organizer and lecturer who in the 1920s displayed a strikingly non-stereotypical interest in East Asian cultures. Taylor introduced Wah to puppet-making, a skill which he would employ when he eventually began working in film.
The UK pop leaning garage duo Disclosure, made up of multi-instrumentalist brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, are bringing their infectious UK garage and 2-step sound stateside! See them play an intimate show in the courtyard at Space15Twenty (across from Amoeba Hollywood) to celebrate their new album Settle (Cherrytree/Interscope; out June 11th on CD, June 18th on LP).
Get a free ticket to this intimate, all-ages show by pre-ordering Settle in-store at Amoeba Hollywood beginning Thursday, May 23. Limit 2 purchases / 2 tickets per person. No phone or online orders available for this show - you've gotta come into Amoeba Hollywood to snag a ticket. But don't hesitate because quantities are limited.
What: Disclosure live at Space 15Twenty
When: Thursday, May 30 at 8pm
Where: Space 15Twenty (1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd, LA, CA 90028)
How: Pre-order new album Settle on CD ($12.98) or LP ($29.98) in-store at Amoeba Hollywood starting Thursday, May 23. Limit 2 purchases / 2 tickets per person. Quantities are limited. No phone orders or online orders for this event.
CDs and LPs pre-purchased will be available for pick up at Amoeba Hollywood beginning June 11th (CD pre-orders) and June 18th (LP pre-orders). Retain your receipt and numbered ticket to pick up yours. No replacement for lost/stolen tickets.
I decided not to see Iron Man 3 because it seems a return to old way of adapting superheroes to the screen: focus on the star, not the costume (e.g., Stallone's Judge Dredd); throw away most everything ever established in the comics about the character and/or his villains (e.g., just about any TV adaptation from the 70s on, such as Spider-Man); and those behind the adaptation are more interested in making the superhero more "believable," which is another way of saying they're not particularly interested in the character but in "telling their own story" (e.g., Ang Lee's exploring what went into Bruce Banner's rage in Hulk, or Superman giving up his powers in Superman II to live a boring bourgeois life with Lois for 30 minutes of screen time). That is, we get a Tony Stark pondering what makes him Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr., is tired of wearing the suit, basically), a funny kid sidekick for him while he's hanging out in Tennessee, and the Mandarin becomes just another white guy in a business suit. It's not that I'm some purist about the comics, which are often quite terrible, but these alterations tend to come from people who are less imaginative than the comics creators, believing they can improve upon the original by throwing out the more outrageous and fantastic qualities that served to make the comics distinct.
Before the influence of movie studios, the comics industry used to practice the Jack Kirby Rule: a ridiculous premise is always better if realized with a cosmic roundhouse from some brute in a colorful costume. There's nothing particularly interesting about Tony Stark questioning his status as a superhero. It would, at least, be weird if he were doing this in a soliloquy while wearing his armor in the middle of a space battle, though. Otherwise, it's just some normal looking dude worrying about a problem that has no relevance to anything in life. So why would anyone want to sit through that?