Amoeblog


A Year in the Life of Amoeba Hollywood -- Year of Sanitation, the Potato, the Frog, the Planet Earth, Languages, Intercultural Dialogue & the Rat

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 30, 2008 01:33am | Post a Comment
Baby New Year Foundling 

2008 The Year in Review

silent running poster jason x poster lake house poster
movies set in 2008

Well, first of all, I’d like to point out what 2008 wasn’t. I mean, probably 2000 and 2001 are the most famous years of the oughts in speculative fiction. However, 2008 also piqued the imagination of Science-Fictionalists. Silent Running didn't resemble my 2008 much, although something kept knocking the ficus in my back yard over which did make me angry. I didn't hear about anything that fit in with the prophecies offered in Jason X. But perhaps no speculation about what 2008 would be like was the 2006 film, The Lake House. I mean, come on. They really thought that in just two years we'd have magic mailboxes that would allow us to send love letter to the past. People get real!

ajax and cassandra billy joel
Cassandra moaning about something                                                                  I don't know

No, 2008 was more like most years than all the hysterical Cassandras out there would have us believe. Global warming fuelling massive natural disasters. Political scandals of sexual and corrupt natures were rampant to the Left and Right. Car bombs and suicide bombs killed scores daily. Unending oil wars waged in the Middle East. Somali was insane. There was horrendous, state-sponsored terrorism in Burma, Darfur, East Turekstan, Palestine, Tibet and the Democratic Republic of Congo (where the death toll is estimated to be around 5.4 million. Yet presumably because their main resource is cobalt, the world turns a blind eye to the most destructive war since WWII). Like William Joel sang in his Baby Boomers-exonerating hit, “We didn’t start the fire.”

guy in typical 2000s attire girls texting each other
                   *sigh* kids today                                                              omg we're having stove-top at 5:00 lolz

Sure, there were new problems that hadn’t been burning since the world’s been turning. Record high gas prices and a global financial crisis are all anyone in the news will talk about these days and almost all wrap-ups of the year end with an utterance of “good riddance.” As my generation's Billy Joel, Silkk the Shocker, sang, "It ain't my fault." But what about the good stuff? Despite Americans being morbidly obsese, our life expectancy reached a new high this year and cases of stroke and heart disease actually dropped. The divorce rate reached its lowest point as women everywhere decided to wait until after junior high school to tie the knot. What about all the cyber-bullying youth, with their hideous hoodies and the constant texting as they try to find out where the rainbow parties... not to mention their ending of every sentence with a skin-crawling “lol?” Well the juvenile crime rate has reached its lowest level in 25 years as kids today commit most of their crimes on the streets of Vice City. It even turns out all that texting is just their attempt to co-ordinate with their friends so that they can eat Stovetop Stuffing as much as possible. The sweatshirts are hideous though.

Hell in a Handbasket Detroit race riot 1967
                       Hell in a handbasket                                         The hallmark of the Summer of Love - race riots   
 
What’s more, despite all the depressing coverage about a handbasket being used carry the world into the firey maw of Moloch, there are actually fewer active wars taking place on Earth right now than ever before. Violent crime in the US continues to drop to lows not seen since crime statistics were first tallied back in the good old days of the Vietnam War, the Boston Strangler, wars in the Middle East, widespread race riots and apartheid -- a year that Baby Boomers affectionately refer to as “The Summer of Love.” So even as local news reporters are sent further and further to find evidence of society’s inevitable collapse and Koreatown corners are filled with crazy old ladies shouting into megaphones about the end times, I believe that things are slowly moving in the right direction.

Amoeba Music Hollywood sign
 
2008 at Amoeba

Amoeba was perhaps a respite from the topsy-turvy coo-coo crazy world outside. Amoeba.com soothed our souls with the hilarious and informative writings of its bloggers. There are also webcasts, the Music We Like section (wherein scads of CDs are available for $10.98 or less), free-downloads for those feeling the pinch, footage of our beloved in-store performances, photos, interviews, contests. I mean, if you’re reading this, you probably know a lot of that already, but take some time to peruse the site.

Gabriela Petrova modeling the movies we like section
Gabriela showing off the Music We Like section

And don’t forget about the store itself. There were many changes afoot here too. First the DVD department added a Movies We Like section where our staff of all stripes recommend movies they truly love. Check out Dave's Raves, Eric B., erc, Gillian's Picks, Matt's Selections, Phil's Phile, Reece's Pieces, Simon Says (The Master of Movies), Tiffany, T-K- and many more. Once you've got a taste for their tastes, it's a great way to pick up something that comes highly recomended from your favorite cineaste. Shortly after the mezzanites made their section, the followers in the Jazz room followed -- but they did the mezzanine movie staffers one better by all growing or retaining facial hair. And, in a major coup, they moved the Experimental section from the Rock floor to their room in the back.
 
Pee Wee Herman and a Nash Metro
Bike enthusiasts and small car owners didn't feel the "pinch at the punch"

The “Winds of January sigh and moan” crooned Bing, although it felt like June because he was in love. For the rest of us, January marked oil barrels hitting $100 for the first time, ushering in 2008 on a sour note. And yet, like many of the coming obstacles that we faced, there was a silver lining. Americans actually drove less. And new car buyers overcame their fears that good mileage was unmanly and started buying sensible cars... which weren’t coming out of Detroit.
 
 
“While friends cry o're their bones unburied /Go sighing through the north east winds/ These cold days of February” sang the love ‘em or hate ‘em Incredible String Band. Kosovo declared its independence over the objections of some major global forces. But all was quiet on the Amoeba front aside from the indescribable in-stores from the Kids of Widney High and Kimya Dawson.

exploding star
 
In my favorite song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Águas de Março,” the bossa nova giant sang “É a chuva chovendo, é conversa ribeira. Das águas de março, é o fim da canseira,” which may mean something completely awful. It could be about Julius Caesar being stabbed 23 times on the Ides -- I don’t know -- but Portuguese makes everything sound soothing. The only stabbing at Amoeba in March was the DJ stylings of Bronx’s Pete Rock, who played an in-store. So did the Welsh/Buckeye collaboration Neon Neon and Floridian murder balladeer Jim White.

Amoeba also toppedLos Angeles Magazine's 64 Greatest Things about LA list, edging out the competition which seemed to be mostly made-up of west side eateries that I’ve never heard of but assume are great places for celebrity worshippers. For the non-West Siders, they gave us "Taco Trucks" and "the Watts Towers" which I'm sure the writers are big fans of.
 
At the end of the month, the light finally reached earth from an explosion that occurred 7.5 billion light years away. Never before had an event observable to the human eye occurred so far away but unfortunately, no one was watching.

In February, Amoeba also celebrated Mardi Gras, as we always do -- in style.
 
“Still fall the April rain and the valley’s filled with pain,” Deep Purple portentously noted. But, whilst the valley may’ve been filled with pain, Amoeba is located safely on the other side of the hills where all was good. Peanut Butter Wolf, possessor of incredibly esoteric vinyl, played an in-store shortly after blessing us with Ladies First, a “Female Rap Mix CD” which mixed tracks by 30 mostly-unknown female rappers.
April 19th was Record Store Day, celebrated by hundreds of indie music stores across the US. At Amoeba Hollywood it was observed with gift certificate giveaways, a commemorative t-shirt, prizes and guest DJ sets from Peanut Butter Wolf and the Donnas. Five days later, the Kiwi duo/TV stars known as Flight of the Conchords played an in-store  to a diverse, enormous and rabid crowd who came from far and who lined up for hours to be treated to their comical songs. 

HD DVD girl HD DVD tombstone
 
May is supposed to be the month when flowers are brought forth by March winds and April showers. 2008’s May, however, was marked instead by horrible natural disasters. Cyclone Nargis killed over 130,000 people in Burma and then, a little over a week later, the Chingdu earthquake killed almost 70,000 in Sichuan. On a smaller scale, the final HD DVDs were released in the US, the disaster-themed Twister and the disasterously-reviewed P.S. I Love You. Shortly afterward, the plug was pulled on the format. If there was a silver lining in all this, it was for those Xbox360 owners who can now by the HD titles for $7.99 and less! And if you find 3 red tag titles for $4.99, you get another of equal price for free!

Santa Monica Pier 1909
 
Back before he was an MTV staple with his band, Cracker, David Lowery successfully rhymed June and moon (but not spoon) when he sang, “And the harvest moon top reign in the sky (now that it's June).” He was, of course, wrong about the timing, as the Harvest Moon occurs in September. June’s moon is known as the Strawberry moon, the Rose moon, the Honey moon or the Mead moon. It’s a long way from June to September, but over in Santa Monica on the Pier, the Twilight Dance Series brings free concerts throughout that period. This year, at Amoeba’s booth there, $3000 was raised for VillagePace, Communities for a Better Environment, One Kid One World and the Surfrider Foundation.

At the Skirball Cultural Center, Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966 ran. It featured more than 160 Dylan artifacts including handwritten lyrics, concert posters and a recording of his never commercially released first concert.  
 
“But I don't even know now and June becomes July” sang forgotten Weller-worshiping dad rockers, Ocean Colour Scene. And although July’s arrival left the Brummie ex-Baggies confused, two things were certain about the Dog Days. The pre-commercial Grunge pioneers the Melvins sludgily took the Amoeba stage, and former Y Kant Tori Read frontwoman Tori Amos signed copies of Comic Book Tattoo, a book containing 51 stories inspired by particular Amos songs.
 
 “I said August is all that I know, It’s with me wherever I go.” Typical drug-induced nonsense or inscrutable prophecy from Love’s Arthur Lee? Did Lee, like Tom Clancy, know that Georgia would invade South Ossetia and Abkhazia? I don’t know, but it happened two years and five days after Lee’s passing. In a two-faced application of US foreign policy, the US backed the Georgian aggressors and Condeleezza Rice uttered one of her funniest condemnations without a trace of irony that, “[Russia can’t] threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, and overthrow a government, and get away with it. “ No, only we can do that, Silly Rabbit!
The skies were sunnier at “The One-Eyed City” (as I once heard a child refer to Amoeba). Brian Wilson rolled up in Caddie and did a signing. And Matthew Sweet power-popped for his fans and a black-haired crowd rapturously took in the breathless vocal stylings of pescetarian from the plains, Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band.
 
“But the days grow short when you reach September,” wrote Maxwell Anderson. Probably not short enough for Lehman Brothers, who filed for bankruptcy that month. But Amoeba-fans found much to enjoy during the long September nights with instores from the Pretenders and Lee Scratch Perry as well as frequent video game-featured local rapper, MURS. The Tuareg and Wodaabe musicians in Etran Finatawa played an instore that showed why they’re quickly making a name for themselves in Niger’s music scene.
 
October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear, do I care?” Irish poet/activist Bono once asked. Many people did care about the massive global financial crisis. It wasn’t all gloom and doom in the season of the witch, however. From the 9th to the 13th, Freewaves presented the Hollywould Festival in which 160 experimental videos, films and media art transformed the normally normally-best-avoided Walk of Fame into a mostly free showcase for experimental, global art. 
 

October also marked the release of Guitar Hero – World Tour. With the Amoeba stage appearing as one of the performance venues, Amoeba was dragged into video game world. Finally! Now we stock a variety of games for all the major formats including PCs, Macs, PSP, XBOX360, PS3, DS, Gameboy and even, on occasion, Dreamcast as well as Sega Genesis and NES cartridges.
 
Michael Stewart modelling video games

Just in time. Studies have shown that sales of video games (as well as make-up, lottery tickets and booze) have increased in these economically trouble times as people turn to alternative ways of cheering themselves up.  

In October, fans were also treated to an in-store by Ralph Nader-supporter, Jackson Browne. I forgot that he wrote Nico’s “These Days.”  

 
Water on Mars David Lynch

A ginger Hoosier once sagely pointed out that “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.” Indeed, November rain proved ephemeral as did the events that occurred that month. Everyone was glued to their sets on election night and witnessed the election of the US’s first half-black (and, less discussed, half-white) president. Water was discovered on Mars. The Donnas stopped by the store to promote their new record and tell us what’s in their bag. One person presumably not thrilled with the election of a Democratic president was cryptic, Missoulian filmmaker David Lynch. He stopped by Amoeba and at least eased fans’ garmonbozia by autographing copies of his Lime Green Set, a mysterious box set full of wonderful things (tiny old people not included).

Mail Order Sign
We do mail order now... and we changed our window display

Amoeba also started treating customers to our brand new mail order service. Now you can have Amoeba ship most of our product to your doorstep, wherever you live in the world. Falkland Islands? We’ve got you! Kenya? Why, yes we ken. We didn’t forget about you, Andorra. You can email us, fax your list or send a telegram and our personal shoppers will take care of the rest.


I went to New Orleans in November. I went to New Orleans a few weeks ago. If you just go to the tourist areas of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Carrollton or St. Charles you’d think that New Orleans looks great, maybe even better than before. But stroll up to Barrone and look north and it’s jawdropping how bad it remains. I saw rebuilding and restoration in the 17th to the 9th wards but there is a long way to go. Luckily, Amoeba continues to host auctions the first Saturday of each month, where you can but all sorts of odd merchandise and hear the Spin Doctors-centric comedy stylings of auctioneer, Brently Heilbron. Thus far, the auctions have aised over $200,000 dollars in aid, $26,000 this year. In addition to helping in rebuilding of New Orleans, a portion goes to global environmental relief charities.
 

Los Angeles in December
 
“This is my December/This is my snow covered home/This is my December /This is me alone.” The lyrics of Linkin Park seemed to perfectly capture the beauty and sadness of Los Angeles’s brief rainy season. The air grew crisp and clear and Angelenos were treated to the sight of snow in the mountains. Macca’s record, Amoeba’s Secret Gig, (recorded at an historic in-store in 2007) earned a couple of Grammy nominations. Fuzzy and furry local space rockers, Darker My Love played an instore. And Amoeba’s legendary (and also furry) Jingle Cat spread holiday cheer, this year accompanied by Jingle Baby. It was also the season for our holiday party, where I was blessed with the company of the enigmatic lovely, Ngoc Nguyen.

 
2009

So while I don’t share the relentless negativity of all the newcasters on public radio who basically bid 2008 “good riddance,” I am pretty sure 2009 will be better.  Keep checking the website because some major changes are coming. I promise they’ll be amazing and if I’m wrong, you can buy me lunch.
 

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