Let's start off with something positive. I'm hard-pressed to think of a better filmed death than Jack's. As someone who's experienced the passing of a loved one after a arduous, painful struggle, I found the serenity in his letting go pitch perfect. Undoubtedly, it's one of Lost's best scenes, sharing a similar timbre with my other favorite death scene, that of Twin Peaks' Leland. Going back to their comment on one of the early blu-ray extras, the showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse knew exactly how they wanted to end their story. According to actor Matthew Fox, they told him the fate of his character during the first season. Unfortunately, what wasn't so planned out was how Jack would get there. "The End" leaves us with five seasons of dangling plot threads that don't add up to much. Instead of having all of that leading to Jack's death, this sequence is constantly interrupted with a bunch of treacle involving almost all the main characters, both alive and dead, meeting up in a church in the alternative "sideways" world to head off into cliché, the afterlife's white light. Evidently, the finale needed an extra half hour just to include a bunch of flashbacks (previous seasons instead relied on audience intelligence) and all the hugging and smiling that goes on in the church. Thus, through parallel editing, the best and worst are presented simultaneously.
South Asia is the most populous and densely populated region in the planet's most populous continent. Not surprisingly, therefore, it's home to many culturally rich nationalities who still struggle in the post-Colonial world for recognition, equality and self-determination.
(If interested, there are similar entries about Caucasia, Eastern Europe and North Asia.)
Assamese dancers (photo by Ramesh Lalwani)
The earliest known settlers in Assam are believed to be the Khasi and Synteng people of southeast Asia. The were later marginalized by the arrival of the Tibeto-Burman language speaking Monpas, Sherdukpens, Bhutan, Mishings, Deuris and Bodo-Kachari. The last major wave of immigrants seems to have been the Hindus around 500 BCE, although small numbers of many other groups have arrived since. As such, Assam today is a highly hybridized place that nonetheless is struggling for autonomy.
We lost another great today. Actor/director/artist Dennis Hopper died earlier today (May 29th) at his home of complications from prostate cancer after battling it since last fall. He was 74. Hopper came to fame as the director, co-writer and costar (opposite Peter Fonda) of the 1969 low-budget, drug-fueled film Easy Rider, that was a landmark for the counterculture and a surprise hit. He made his screen acting debut over a decade earlier in 1955's Rebel Without A Cause playing a rival high-school gang member opposite James Dean.
Hopper didn't only play a hard drinking, drug imbibing individual on film. The actor, whose hard partying alcohol and drug reputation preceded him for many years, had his ups-and-downs in Hollywood as a direct result. Not surprising considering that, by his own admission, for one long extended lost weekend that lasted five years, he was consuming on average three grams of coke, a half a gallon of rum, plus a case of beer every day.
But after getting his life back on track his career enjoyed a resurgence. Following being out of the Hollywood spotlight, a newly sobered up Hopper returned to his former glory in 1986 for his Oscar nominated role in Hoosiers, followed that same year by his amazing role as the twisted & deranged character Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (check out the brilliant yet disturbing clip below).
In all, Hopper appeared in well over a hundred different films, including (in no particular order) Apocalypse Now, Giant, True Romance, Cool Hand Luke, Hang 'Em High, True Grit, The American Friend, Rumble Fish, Speed, and River's Edge. Look for these and other Hopper films on DVD at Amoeba Music. Below are some select Hopper movie clips. And check the nice career-long photo dedication to Dennis Hopper on the Washington Post's website.
A view of lower Rowland Heights from the hills
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Rowland Heights -- made without aesthetic consideration for my eyes only
1) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives (Republic)
2) Reflection Eternal Revolutions Per Minute (Blacksmith/Rawkus/Warner Brothers)
3) Madlib Madlib Medicine Show #5-History of the Loop Digga-1990-2000 (Stones Throw)
4) Guilty Simpson OJ Simpson (Stones Throw)
5) Mystik Journeymen Return 2 The Love (Outhouse)
Thanks to Luis at Amoeba Music San Francisco for the above hip-hop chart that features the brand new duet album from Nas and Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, in the number one slot. According to Nas, this successful full length collaboration goes deeper than just music. It is about hope and empowerment and education. “We tryin' to build some schools in Africa… and trying to build empowerment,” the Queensbrige emcee recently told MTV News about the album, whose proceeds go to building a school in the Congo. Distant Relatives, which was mostly produced by Damian “JR Gong” Marley and his brother Stephen Marley, addresses the ongoing unrest in the continent of Africa on such songs as "Count Your Blessings." The song "Africa Must Wake Up," the album's closing track that fittingly features Africa's best known hip-hopper, K'Naan, spitting verse in his native tongue, is a powerful message song about the need for positive change across the continent of Africa.
Our June schedule is available online:
Friday & Saturday, May 28 & 29
Special Derrick Comedy Guests In Person!
2009, USA, 105 minutes
dir. Dan Eckman, starring Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson, Dominic Dierkes, Aubrey Plaza, Matt Walsh
Fri: 7:30; Sat: 3:20 & 7:30, Watch The Trailer!
Will Oldham, or Bonnie "Prince" Billy, as he often styles himself onstage and on wax, seems to have naturally great taste when it comes to singer-songwriter types native to or otherwise rambling through the backwoods and beachheads of Northern California. Of his latest collaborations I've taken a shine to the Cairo Gang or, more specifically, the vocals and guitar styling of one Emmett Kelly & co. --- lending a little of this and that to a handful of recent BPB albums as well as offering gentle listeners something on the side with the release of their 7" EP Holy Clover (out now on Empty Cellar Records).
Each of the four songs captured here recall proper feelings of seasonal impermanence and the sort of wisdom-beyond-one's-years that many modern singer-songwriters attempt to brew but seem to have trouble getting just right. Kelly (besides having a fabulous name) is blessed with a voice that not only pairs remarkably well with Oldham's wood-smoked yet crystal-fragile vocals but suits the well-crafted folk/rock vibes his band lays down (I've always thought Oldham's voice, while folksy, was more country than rock), especially when he lets loose in "Get's Me Back" on side B --- a jam with stellar guitars (Kelly is joined here by Chris Rodahaffer) sounding something like America high-fiving Neil Young with an echo of Kyle Field's (a.k.a. Little Wings) sentimental Soft Pow'r glowing 'round the edges. On the whole this little gem plays languid and pale in a light what shines one of the best of Bonnie Billy's partners in crime. Below is a little clip of Emmet Kelly and Will Oldham performing "Midday" (the A side to the 7" that accompanies the Bonnie "Prince" Billy & the Cairo Gang Wonder Show of the World CD and LP) --- their "Afternoon Delight," as it were --- in a Brooklyn basement.
Written, recorded, and released back in 1935 by the great delta blues musician and songwriter Big Joe Williams, the song "Baby Please Don't Go" has been popular with countless artists in the seventy five years since, having been covered by dozens upon dozens of different musicians to the point that it ranks among the top ten most recorded blues songs in music's history.
Perhaps the most famous or recognizable cover version of "Baby Please Don't Go" is the 1964 recording/release by Them -- the Belfast, Northern Ireland blues-rock ensemble featuring Van Morrison. Them's cover (with "Gloria" on the B side), which was a top ten single in the UK in 1965 and a US AOR radio staple in consequent years, injected a whole rock n roll energy into the classic blues song.
So influential was Van & co's version that nearly all of the versions of the song recorded or just played after 1965 (including by fellow Irish blues-rockers Taste featuring Rory Gallagher) are rock inflected covers a la Them rather than the original blues version by Williams. Another Irish rocker to cover the song was guitarist / vocalist Eric Bell, who was an original member of Thin Lizzy.
But due to a projection / sound problem, this is what I saw instead:
Rome Nos Chants Perdus[Trisol] CD
Over a series of remarkable concept albums, the Luxembourgish band Rome has developed a totally unique ‘poetry of longing’ which rings out from the dark melancholic mist of rootlessness and which gives expression to a comprehensive feeling of modern forlornness. The protagonists of their music are the unintentional ‘rebels’ of Camus (L’Homme révolté), contemporaries from the turbulent epochs of the 20th century: the banished and the hunted, the despised and the misunderstood – ceaseless enemies of dictatorship. This is what the songs of Rome frontman Jerome Reuter are about, rooted firmly in the tradition of his declared heroes Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. With regard to content, Rome derives inspiration from world literature and an observant listener will be able to detect references to Camus, Proust, Sartre and Jean Genet. Following hot on the heels of their EP L’Assassin, the band assiduously develops its sound further on a minimalistic yet richly textured, simple singer-songwriter album Nos Chants Perdus -- slowly leaving the apocalyptic realms behind them. Catchy melodies impress themselves on the memory and Reuter’s gothic tenor is currently peerless. Apart from the French song titles the lyrics are primarily performed in English, while the music is constructed primarily with acoustic instruments: piano, guitar, touches of strings, accordion. They have largely relinquished electronic elements, which marks Nos Chants Perdus out as a further and remarkable stride in the work of the band. Check out samples of Rome’s previous efforts here and here.
Yesterday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, artist David Byrne filed a $1million suit against the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, along with his senatorial campaign, alleging that the governor used the Talking Heads' mid eighties single "Road to Nowhere" (Sire/Warner) without permission or proper licenses.
Gov. Crist, who is also Florida's former Attorney General, used the Talking Heads song, found on the band's 1985 Little Creatures album, earlier this year in a website and YouTube ad directed against his then-Republican primary opponent, Marco Rubio.
According to a report on Billboard's website, Byrne, "became aware of the Crist ad from a friend in New York, where the Talking Heads co-founder resides." Byrne told the music magazine that he "was pretty upset" when he learned about the song's unauthorized use and stressed that the lawsuit, "is not about politics...It's about copyright."
This is not the first time that an American politician has used a famous rock artist's music or likeness without permission. Back in 1984 during his re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan, while giving a speech in Hammonton, New Jersey, appropriated the work of the state's favorite son Bruce Springsteen (referencing the then popular "Born In The USA"). When Springsteen (a liberal & most opposed to Reagan) found out about this, he was pissed and put an immediate stop to it. More recently, John McCain, in his 2008 Republican presidential candidate run, used Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty." Browne filed a suit and won. His lawyer in the case, Lawrence Iser, is now representing Byrne in the case against the Florida Gov.
In recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this entry is about the Long Beach neighborhood of Cambodia Town. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be covered on the blog, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Cambodia Town
Cambodia Town is a neighborhood in Long Beach's East Side centered on Anaheim Street between Atlantic and Junipero. To the north is the neighborhood of Signal Hill. To the south is Carroll Park.
Their economy may be in tatters and the spewing volcanic ash that caused so much disruption to air travel may have strained relations with their mainland European neighbors, who were hardest hit, but Iceland's music scene is still in a very healthy state. From the ever-inventive post-rock sound of Sigur Rós to the turntablist hip-hop sounds of former Amoebite and Icelandic born DJ Platurn, and from the home-made, lo-fi analog sounds of longtime Icelandic duo Slowblow to the warmly produced, retro electronic sounds of FM Belfast, Iceland clearly has much to offer musically.
And of all the recent non hip-hop releases I have been listening to lately, FM Belfast, who hail from Reykjavík, Iceland, are among my top faves. Their just released eleven track how to make friends album on Kimi Records (which was originally released in 2008 as an import-only on the small Icelandic indie World Champion Records) captures the fun electro-pop/electronicia trio's throwback style on such tracks as "Frequency" and "VHS" (which longs for the bygone days of VHS tapes and other old technology). But the FM Belfast album track that won me over upon first hearing it was the group's inspired cover of Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam." For their interpretation of this once ubiquitous 1989 upbeat, bouncy, hip-house-y global hit, they totally rework it by bringing it almost to a screeching halt. They transform the song, renamed "Pump," into a hypnotic, DJ Screw (Chopped and Screwed like) slowed-down version that I think is pure brilliance. Check it out below yourself to see what you think. Meantime, all the way down the page is Technotronic themselves with the Belgian outfit's 1989 video for "Pump Up The Jam," which was a worldwide smash hit, including in the US, where it went to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in late 1989 & early 1990, becoming the first ever house record to go commercial Stateside.
Welp, "The End" is tonight. I've been less than enamored with Lost's final season, not because of unresolved mysteries (which is how I wanted it), but poor story construction. Rather than the forceful movement towards the finale that all the other seasons possessed, there's been too much dicking around, deflating the momentum. It wasn't until the third to last episode that the reason for all the castaways being on the island was revealed through the origin of Jacob and his nemesis, the man in black (MIB), aka his twin brother.
"Across the Sea" is one of the season's best episodes, as it takes the old prime mover argument for a god's existence (that everything has to have a beginning, so there must be an ultimate beginning) and narratively plays out the problem with that: the positing of a first cause runs counter to the reason for it's use, that everything has to have a cause. Thus, we find out how Jacob and MIB became who they are, but we don't know squat about the one they call Mother who condemned them to the island -- so goes the most quoted bit from the episode: answers only lead to more questions. Ontologically, that makes me happy. Likewise, I like the way Jacob doesn't have any real possession of the Truth, either. He just chooses to believe the ad hoc mumbo-jumbo of this woman who admittedly killed his real mother, because that's really all he's got. He's learned something over the subsequent 2,000 years about the island's mystical mechanics, but seemingly very little about the what for. That he has to protect the island and keep his brother's smoggy avatar imprisoned are matters of faith. At its core, the show demonstrates the blurry distinction between faith and its seemingly more rational counterpart, inference to the best explanation. Thus, Jacob is following the law of his Mother, a person who believed it necessary to not only kill his real mom, but murder the other people on the island, because they were trying to harness its central power source. Or, then again, derailing the MIB's attempt to get off the island by razing the village was just a ruse to get him pissed off enough to end her eternal drudgery as protector. She even thanks him for killing her. ( And, I could be mishearing, but it sure seems like she calls him José as she lies dying. Being a variant of Joseph, favorite son of Jacob, that would fit this Oedipalized passion play. Joseph's dying wish was to have his bones returned to Israel, the MIB wishes to return home as a disembodied spirit of sorts. The inspiration for the character's names never determine their arc, but just allude to some analogical similarities.) It's all perfectly ambiguous, but it does provide what's at stake for the remaining candidates should they find the faith to make the same decision as Jacob.
However, the placement of that backstory felt like a drag on the main storyline, coming right after "The Candidate," in which we witnessed the deaths of Sayid, Jin and Sun. (Lapidus is still alive, since his death wasn't shown and his piloting skill is the most logical way off the island for whoever survives.) Why wasn't Jacob's origin story placed somewhere at the beginning of the season, where it would've added some dramatic point to all the characters flailing around in both timelines? Instead, it's been more characters and mysteries introduced with viewers waiting to see what the point of it all is. The dramaturgy behind the sideways timeline has been little more than reminding the viewer what the characters were like at the beginning of the journey with inverted twists on their lot in life -- sometimes surprising, but who cares? Although I admit that the interactions between sideways Locke and Jack deepen their characters (so it definitely hasn't been all bad). Had "Across the Sea" come earlier, the creators could've restructured the narrative so that all the decisions being made had some relevance, were contingent upon, the primal act established therein. When said deaths occurred, it felt haphazard, like a gimmick just to convey that this UnLocke guy, whoever the hell he is, meant business -- whatever business that might be. Which brings me to the problem of rule-following in a fantasy.
It doesn't matter why vampires incinerate in sunlight, only that once it's established that they do, you don't see any tanning on a beach. Earlier in the season, Jack proved his hard-earned faith that he's on the island for a reason by lighting a stick of dynamite in front of Richard and watching it fizzle out. Similarly, in a previous season, Michael couldn't kill himself with a pistol. As the rule goes, the island wasn't done with them yet. Considering this rule, alongside all of the convenient coincidences, is what makes "The Candidate" one of the clumsiest and most poorly told episodes of the season, if not the entire series.
First, let's take all the contingencies that UnLocke would've had to consider in advance (foreseen?) for his plan to kill the remaining candidates to work: (1) Jack had to change his mind about not leaving the island, an idea he was so committed to that he jumped off a boat in a previous episode, willing to let his friends leave without him. (2) Jack had to take off his backpack at the right moment, so that UnLocke could switch it out with one containing a C4 bomb hooked to a timer. (3) Because UnLocke can't directly kill the candidates (just as he couldn't kill Jacob), the timer going off without anyone's awareness would've have amounted to diddly. Thus, Kate had to be conveniently shot, so that Jack would need the medical supplies in his pack, thereby discovering the bomb. (4) Related to 3, UnLocke had to count on the group not finding any first aid kit in the sub. (5) Sawyer had to be counted on to not trust Jack's faith in not dying should the bomb go off, so that he'd mistakenly try to dismantle the bomb, making him the direct killer of the surviving candidates. Okay, maybe that last one wasn't so hard to predict given Sawyer's opinion of Jack, but it points to the problem of rule-following I mentioned.
Eric: How is your Asian Pacific American Heritage Month going?
Kent Lambert: It's going swimmingly, thank you.
Eric: Have you done anything to honor or celebrate APA Month?
KL: I consider this interview the official kick-off to my APA Month festivities. Next week I just might whip up an old-fashioned Japanese meal of miso soup with brown rice and "tofu steaks," and I'll be posting some labels of old Enka 45s I swiped from my mom to Collector Not Completist. Perhaps some bi bim bop and bánh mì before the month is through. Sake and/or sh?ch?.
1) Sage Francis Li(F)e (Strange Famous Records)
2) B.o.B. presents The Adventures Of Bobby Ray (Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
3) Madlib Madlib Medicine Show #4: 420 Chalice All-Stars (Stones Throw)
4) Roc Marciano Marcberg (Fat Beats)
5) Black Eyed Peas
The E.N.D. (Interscope)
Amoeba Hollywood's hip-hop chart features the new album from Sage Francis Li(F)e on the artist's own Strange Famous label in the number one position. The record is also doing extremely well at both the San Francisco and the Berkeley Amoeba stores. Peep last week's Amoeba Music Hip-Hop Weekly Round Up for more background info on this recommended new release from the alternative rap act, as well as upcoming California dates/venues on the ongoing Sage Francis tour, which reportedly is selling advance tickets at a rapid rate. All the other chart entries this week at the SoCal Amoeba, including B.o.B. presents The Adventures Of Bobby Ray, Madlib's Madlib Medicine Show #4: 420 Chalice All-Stars (Stones Throw), and Long Island, NY emcee Roc Marciano's Marcberg on Fat Beats, have also been best sellers lately at Amoeba Berkeley and San Francisco. Meantime, the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. (Interscope), which is coming up on the one year anniversary of its release date in a few weeks, is like the Energizer bunny. It just keeps on going and going and selling and selling -- thanks in great part to the group touring and the hook-laden hit singles it keeps spinning off.
I know very little about car models and brands. It is just something that I was never interested in. I never really enjoyed playing with model car kits or with hot wheels. Like most boys of the 80's though, I owned my share of toy cars. I didn't really choose my toys and I sort of just used my imagination. I much preferred the spaceships to cars, actually, and I really thought we would all be driving some sort of spaceship by now anyway. It is 2010! Remember when that seemed so far away? I guess it just seemed like the year you would turn 20 if you were born in 1990!...which is a bit crazy to me still. The children of the 90's are growing up too. Movies obviously played a big part of the way I thought about the future. They influenced us all, and often more than what we learned in the textbooks, although I do remember learning about the future in school a bit. I remember having to write an essay in elementary school about what I thought the future would be like. I had to "invent" something that would be commonplace in the future. I would kill somebody to get a hold of that essay! I still have most of my high school and college papers but I think in high school I decided I wasn't ever gonna need to read my papers on Harriet Tubman or the Challenger shuttle disaster that were from middle and elementary school. I think they have been recycled back into other paper products at this point. My essay on the future might have been influenced by the movie Back to the Future more than anything I had been taught in the classroom, but I do remember having a good imagination -- or maybe I just combined the movies Tron and Back To the Future in my mind. Back To The Future came out in 1985. Tron came out in 1982. I would like to think I wrote this paper in 1981, but it may have been a couple of years after that. Maybe my teacher actually took my paper and sold it to Hollywood and made off with a million bucks! I really need to find that paper. I was talking to one of my friends the other day about my first movie memory. Both Tron and Back To The Future are early movie memories. I can still remember the theater I saw E.T. in and where I was sitting. I can also remeber Empire Strikes Back, which I think is my first movie theater memory. Back to the paper... I wrote about these highways that were all tracks. You would just get in your car and tell it where you wanted to go and it would drive there for you. My invention was great because I remember that I claimed, "No more car accidents!" I think I drew pictures and everything. The cars looked more like miniature limos and they came with their own cassette tape boom box, of course. I guess I was not smart enough to invent the mp3 or the Ipod. Or maybe I did and I just don't remember. It was a long time ago.
You are probably wondering how I got to be talking about all this if you are still reading along with my journey through my memories. I will relate it all to a new album I love very soon, don't you worry. I loved the Delorean in Back To The Future. And the car doors in my future highway that I designed opened up much like the Delorean in Back To The Future. So of course I was excited about a band named Delorean! It could have been some lame metal emo band that got to the name first, but I'm glad it was this Delorean, a band with a new album out on True Panther. The album is called Subiza. And yes, it does
sound like the future...or maybe some version of the future that I imagined in the 80's. It sounds a bit like a fun beachy Miami Vice soundtrack at times. Or what the hip grandchildren of the Golden Girls would have been listening to. It is also spacey and dreamy. Beachgaze dream pop! I love the new music coming out from bands like Washed Out, Best Coast, Surfer Blood, and The Drums. It's getting me excited for a new generation of musicians. I love the shoegaze so I am of course excited about all the nugaze coming out this last decade, but this band is not nugaze. They are more influenced or at least sound like 90's house and pop dance. They sound more like Pictureplane than Beach House. It's Marky Mark meets the Beach Boys. It's the KLF meets OMD. It's just good. They don't really need a category. This is my first time hearing Delorean but this is actually this Spanish band's third album. It's a fun dancey album! You should love it. I am already in love!
Although the members of Los Angeles-based Christ vs. Warhol all sport mohawks and/or various body modifications, there’s nothing scrappy about the quartet’s debut full-length disc, Dissent. Instead, one will find this well-oiled 4-headed beast firing on all cylinders on 13 solidly produced and politically-minded tracks.
There has been a glut of silly, style-focused and, frankly, dumb Deathrock bands vying for attention for the last few years and for a genre that isn’t all that crowded, that’s a pretty sad state. Christ vs. Warhol avoids these pitfalls by mostly avoiding navel-gazing and instead delivering incendiary, topical and thoughtful lyrics bathed in cascading riffs and wet bass lines. Vocalist and lyricist Eveghost (formerly of Scarlet’s Remains) aims her firing sights at a multitude of topics, like blind consumerism, media-manufactured beauty standards, talk radio windbags and their corporate bosses as well as those
Dissent was produced by Faith & The Muse’s William Faith, which probably explains some of the shimmer and gleam the album carries. His presence is certainly felt on the opening track, “A New Model of the Universe,” a dirtied Dream Pop instrumental, all tribal drums and soaring guitar effects bookended by chiming finger cymbals. “And If You Forget,” one of the few tracks concerning personal issues (here it’s a damaged lover) has a similar dreamy-lean with a swirling arrangement and Eveghost hitting the notes in her lovely upper register. The band excels on these airier tracks; it’d be interesting to see the band focus on and hone these elements for future efforts.
Our May / June schedule is available online:
May 20 - 23
Quentin Tarantino presents a
David Carradine Tribute in Association with Cinefamily
We celebrate the life of one of our favorite actor / filmmakers, the late David Carradine (1936-2009), with a festival that highlights the best, weirdest and brightest films in David's epic filmography. At the New Bev on Thursday the rarely-seen AMERICANA kicks off the series; Friday showcases a triple feature of David's work with legendary directors Hal Ashby, Ingmar Bergman & Martin Scorsese and on Saturday we present two of David's most iconic roles. The weekend concludes with a 4 film marathon (including CIRCLE OF IRON & SONNY BOY) plus bbq at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre! See www.cinefamily.org for their full schedule.
One of my favorite nights in Los Angeles for the last few years has been Mas Exitos. Every visit ensures that I will hear a gem that only a devoted digger would find or a lost classic that most wouldn’t think to drop. I dare you to find another pachanga that marries dirty Cumbias with East Los backyard freestyle jams, 60’s Mexican Beat, lost Chicano rockers and driving Boogaloos. My personal favorites jams are what the Mas Exitos crew, DJ Lengua, Ganas and Enorbito, call “paisadelic-psychedelic freak outs,” usually a single cut from a Regional Mexican LP that dipped into the psychedelic sounds of the time. You would never guess these nuggets would have come from guys that look like a wedding band from the 70’s, but it just goes to show you how important it is to dig!
Thursday, Mas Exitos will have their first night at a new location. Mas Exitos will now be a monthly at Footsie’s Bar in Highland Park. They have also moved from their Tuesday slot to a Thursday. Footsie’s also houses another great night in Rani D’s excellent Soul In The Park, which happens every other Wednesday. Between those two nights, you might as well camp out in the HP! They also get a pretty good selection of guest deejays that come through to drop some deep cuts. Guests in the past have included Cut Chemist, Quantic, Roger Mas, Tropicaza and countless others. If you haven't been in a while, come on down and dig the new scene. If you have never been, you are in for a treat.
The first thing that struck me upon entering the recently reopened, remodeled & restructured Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is how much more hands-on and visitor friendly it is now as compared to before it closed its doors to the public eight months ago to undergo its first major makeover since the museum first opened back in 1969. On re-opening day earlier this month everywhere I looked throughout the museum's many exhibits I saw people of all ages getting hands-on involvement from museum-headphone wearing folks voting via "Yes" or "No" tickets in the "What is Art?" exhibit, and other participants scribbling down personal histories on post-its to add to the exhibit wall that asks museum-goers, "What events in recent history will have the biggest impact on our future?"
This radical move away from the staid traditional model of museum-goer as non-participant observer and toward becoming encouraged active participant is a deliberate one by the downtown Oakland museum, which invested $58-million into its recent refurbishing. "Interactivity is so important and that is one of the challenges for museums," noted OMCA curator Rene de Guzman in the Amoeblog interview (video below). "Museums traditionally have been talking at people. And you really have to create a new model where you are in conversation with people," said the curator, whose rich Bay Area gallery/museum background includes influential positions at such respected San Francisco arts entities as Intersection for the Arts, Southern Exposure (as artist committee member), and Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (YBCA), where he was the visual arts director (along with Renny Pritikin, de Guzman curated the progressive & popular Hip-Hop Nation exhibit in 2001). de Guzman, who joined OMCA in time for this renovation, pinpoints "community" and "culture" as the two key elements of the East Bay institution, which he put plainly-but-profoundly as, "People telling their point of view."
Ok, so Alyssa Milano wasn’t tweeting back and our resident rock-star-who-we-can’t-name was too busy doing rock star things elsewhere to be in attendance, but there was a tall, thin gentleman looking a helluva lot like my former conspirator in the Amoeba Hollywood 45 room, son of Texas, Brently Heilbron, in the audience eating pretzels and keeping his distance from the enormous 77 pound chocolate cake which was parallel parked alongside the couch so that the large live studio audience -- triple the regular crowd size, which explains why security showed up -- could dance and binge on food and booze, all to celebrate the end of season one of Eguiders.com’s webcast The B Side Live.
Spill a little on the curb for the passing of the long-running TV show Law & Order, which, after 20 solid years/seasons on the air, plus giving birth to several spin-offs, had the plug abruptly pulled on it by NBC last Friday. Admittedly, the passing of a TV series may not be nearly as seriously tragic as the recent real life passings of musicians Ronnie James Dio or Lena Horne, but for both the dedicated fans and the actors and others employed by the long-running show (matched only by Gunsmoke in terms of being TV's longest running dramas), it is sad news. But at least we have re-runs and the various seasons of Law and Order on DVD -- available at Amoeba Music.
The Dick Wolf created show, with its instantly recognizable theme music by Mike Post, in its current season stars Anthony Anderson, Jeremy Sisto, and Linus Roache. Law & Order has also featured S. Epatha Merkerson for 391 episodes and Sam Waterston for 368, with a grand total of 453 episodes. Perhaps most beloved on the show was the late Jerry Orbach, who played Detective Lennie Briscoe from 1992 to 2004. In fact, he even made cameos on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and the short lived Law & Order: Trial By Jury -- three spin-offs of the influential Law and Order franchise that each employed the trademark "doink doink" sound effect (hear it below) to bridge scenes. There is also a spinoff British version, Law & Order: UK.
I thought I posted this up a week ago..oops..sorry it is so late!
I did something different this month. Since we sold a grip of LP's during Record Store Day, I made a separate chart for vinyl releases. I also expanded the chart from a top ten to a top twenty and added the section the releases are filed in.
CD Top 20
1. Ozomatli-Fire Away (Latin Rock & Pop)
2. V/A-Pomegranates (Middle East/Iran)
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg-IRM (France)
4. Julieta Venegas-Otra Cosa (Latin Rock & Pop)
5. Mulatu Astatke-Steps Ahead (Africa)
6. Enrique Bunbury-Las Consecuencias (Latin Rock & Pop)
7. Aventura-Last (Bachata)
8. Tinariwen-Imidiwan: Companions (Africa)
9. El Gran Combo-Sin Salsa No Hay Paraiso (Salsa)
10. V/A-Dengue Fever Presents: Electric Cambodia (Asia/Cambodia)
11. V/A-Absolute Belter (Spain)
12. Maldita Vecindad-Circular Colectivo (Latin Rock & Pop)
13. Ali Farka Toure& Toumani Diabate-Ali & Toumani (Africa)
14. Angelique Kidjo-Oyo (Africa)
15. Rodrigo Y Gabriela-11:11 (Latin Rock & Pop)
16. Sandro-30 Aniversario (Latin Rock & Pop)
17. Manu Chao-Clandestino (Latin Rock & Pop)
18. Clorofila-Corrido Urbanos (Latin Rock & Pop)
19. V/A-Nigerian Afrobeat Special (Africa)
20. Caetano Veloso-Zii E Zie (Brazil)
NB: Since the initial publication of this blog entry, Koreatown's borders have been expanded and made official by the city. A new map reflects this but the text of the blog entry does not.
This blog entry is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown. To vote for more LA neighborhoods to be the subject of future blog entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
In recognition of you, the blog readers' votes, and in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I headed to Koreatown for answers. While Palisades Park, New Jersey has the highest concentration of Korean-Americans in the United States and Georgia is home to the fastest-growing Korean-American population (in the US), Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Koreans and our Koreatown destroys the competition.
At the forefront of the anti SB 1070 protest rap movement are the thirteen different Arizona hip-hop artists who recently found cause to join forces and record the powerful song (and video above) "Back To Arizona" that lyrically decries the bill (rightfully seen as legalized racial profiling) that was signed last month by their state's Gov. Jan Brewer. The mostly unknown but talented Arizona artists that contributed to this posse cut include Queen YoNasDa, DJ John Blaze, Tajji Sharp, Yung Face, Mr. Miranda, Ocean, Da'aron Anthony, Atllas, Chino D, Nyhtee, Pennywise, Rich Rico, and Da Beast.
THE LITTLE BANG
The Heart of Little Bangladesh
This blog entry is about the Midtown Los Angeles neighborhood of Little Bangladesh. To vote for more neighborhoods to be the subject of future blog entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Midtown
My first experience with Ronnie James Dio was when my mom took me to see Heavy Metal. "Mob Rules" plays while an evil horde kills the pneumatic heroine's people. After acquiring a magic sword, she dons a chainmail bikini and, sitting astride a flying dragon, exacts her revenge. Justify that with some philosophy, and you pretty much have my taste in cinema today. I got a walkman for the following Christmas with what was my first album, Prince's 1999. But the first cassette I bought myself was the Heavy Metal soundtrack. Like many budding metalheads of the time, the soundtrack proved a huge disappointment, as there wasn't anything else on it like the Sabbath song. That didn't matter much, though, since it was strong enough to determine my musical preferences for the next 5 or so years. This was back in the good ol' days when genres meant something, were ideologically pure. Punks hated metalheads, and vice versa, but neither was hated as much as the accursed New Wave kids. I was never very good at being a purist: I hated solos even back then and spent a lot of time privately listening to oldies on the radio. However, I wouldn't publicly break rank -- like Maoism, metal gave me a sense of belonging to a greater good. Hell if I'd ever show weakness in front of my enemies.
I was a committed comrade the first time I saw Dio play on November 17, 1985, at Dallas' Reunion Arena during his Sacred Heart tour. Rough Cutt opened, but I don't remember anything about them. In fact, I don't remember much about this show except my buddy Mitch and I had balcony seats and were determined to get to the floor, where we wouldn't be able to see anything. Watching from the rafters just never had the same appeal as being part of the big, sweaty, headbanging collective by the stage. So, as Dio began "Rainbow in the Dark" for the encore, we dropped about 12 feet and made a dash to the front where we banged out the rest of the show. Hardly the October Revolution, but what do you expect from the Reagan-era suburban youth? At least I wasn't listening to Minor Threat.
The next time I saw Dio was on his Dream Evil tour. This was February 2nd, 1988, and once again at Reunion Arena. By then, thrash had made his style seem passé. The generic divisions were no longer so clear or socially meaningful. It was around then, when walking downtown, a skinhead approached me to tell me how much he liked my Motörhead t-shirt -- truly the beginning of the end. And, truthfully, I only went to the show to see Megadeth, but did get to witness Dio using a broadsword almost as tall as he to slay a dragon shooting lasers from its eyes (Dallas laws prohibited pyrotechnics). Shortly thereafter, I discovered The Velvet Underground and Zappa, effectively ending my metal days.
The fact that a singer could get someone like me, who hates the whole Dungeons & Dragons/Lord Of The Rings culture, so pumped up with lyrics like “Circles and rings, Dragons and kings, Weaving a shock and a spell...”
Sure, there were other Metal vocalists who had powerful voices, but they were either too shrill (Bruce Dickinson) or way too operatic (Rob Halford) for my taste. Dio’s voice had the power of an opera singer but with a style that you would find in soul & rockabilly singers. It’s no surprise to me that his first releases were soul singles as Ronnie Dio & The Prophets back in the early sixties.
Dio’s music got me through some very long drives across the U.S. and Mexico. I played his solo albums and his albums with Black Sabbath (Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules) and Rainbow (Rising and Long Live Rock & Roll). Dio turned out to be the ultimate co-pilot; he never fell asleep, never let me down and occasionally yelled, "Look out!"
Dio was always the source of late night drunken arguments with my friends about who was better: Ozzy-Era Sabbath or Dio-Era Sabbath? Yes, Dio was a better singer. The band played better with him and Dio wrote his own lyrics (Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler wrote most the lyrics of the songs from the classic Ozzy-Era). Yet, it was always a losing battle for anyone on Dio's side. Why? Because HE'S freakin' Ozzy Osbourne! Everyone loves him, faults and all. That's why there was a television show called The Osbournes and not "The Dios!" Sorry, Ronnie.
I found this piece of work on La Brea. Question is: what is "lovre"?
I mean, maybe this person could find what they're looking for if we only knew what lovre was...
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Ace In The Hole Friday 7:30 Sat 3:10 & 7:30
The Harder They Fall Friday 9:40 Sat 5:20 & 9:40
It's about the life of a young woman (and co-director and writer of the film), Marjane Satrapi, growing up in Iran during the revolution, and about the price one must pay for freedom. Sure, it does what it sets out to do and what is generically expected of a film of this subject matter, showing the (presumably Western) viewer that at the core the divide between our lives and that of those living in Iran isn't as great as it's perceived to be, and that we all crave the same basic things, but it does this in a genuinely innovative and moving way.
Persepolis takes a disorienting, complex event in history and makes it personal. The deaths, explosions, loss of dignity, loss of basic human rights -- we see each of these happen individually to members of Marjane's family, her friends, herself, and through that, both the impact and understanding of what happened is heightened.
It's a serious topic, but the filmmakers allow for the inclusion humor and lightness often as well, especially around the universal adolescent experience of rebellion. Despite the Western cultural ban in Iran, Marjane writes "Punk is not ded [sic]" on the back of her jacket and buys contraband Iron Maiden tapes, picking up her tennis racket and headbanging around her room.
The animated format packs a great and specific amount of detail into each frame, and also allows for an at times realistic and at times fantastical graphic focus on both Marjane's real life and what she imagines (chats with god and Bruce Lee-esque martial arts skills!). Using drawings instead of real shots enables Persepolis' creators to take a scary, overwhelming time and make it less difficult to watch as well as bring in a touch of whimsy where appropriate -- from simply a hand peeking out from rubble after a missile launch to jasmine flowers floating across the screen via Marjane's grandma's bra (yup).
1) Sage Francis Li(F)e (Strange Famous Records)
2) Roc Marciano Marcberg (Fat Beats)
3) Declaime Fonk (E1/Koch)
4) Blacastan Blac Sabbath (Brick)
5) Grand Invincible Cold Hand In The Dice Game (Zero Friends)
Luis' two bonus picks of the week:
-Gurp City's Own Yole Boys Self titled (Megakuts Tapes) (cassette)
-CX Kidtronik Wild Kingdom (vinyl + CD pack) (Stones Throw)
Thanks to Luis at Amoeba Music San Francisco for supplying the latest hip-hop top five chart, in both text and video formats (above & below respectively), for this week's Amoeba Music Hip-Hop Top Five chart + two bonus picks for the week. In the number one slot with the brand new album Li(F)e on the artist's Strange Famous label, is longtime alt hip-hop artist Sage Francis, who headlines the Fillmore in San Francisco June 4th, the Catalyst in Santa Cruz June 5th, and the Music Box @ the Fonda in LA June 6th. Like such other alt rap acts as Cage or POS, who have always straddled that line between rap and alternative rock, Francis, whose last two albums appeared on the predominantly punk label Epitaph Records, has pretty much made the full transition from hip-hop over to the rock side of the equation on this new release (the artist's fourth album since his 2002 debut on Anticon Personal Journals). With backing from a live rock band featuring members of Califone, plus various other collaborators, including Chris Walla, the 12-track album finds Francis in fine form, singing & rapping in his distinct, grave vocal style on tracks such as the hard-rocking singalong "Three Sheets To The Wind," the country-rock tinged "Slow Man" (below), the head banging "London Bridge," with its commentary on the US health care system, and the stripped-down instrumental and new age-y "The Best of Times (featuring Yann Tierson)," which is available for free download on the artist's site. You can also preview it on the homepage of this website and buy the CD directly here at Amoeba.com for $10.99.
A group of inmates on the "A" Facility Sensitive Needs yard area at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, CA are now facing attempted murder charges after they recently tried to kill imprisoned Sacramento rapper & regular Amoeblog contributor Anerae "X-Raided" Brown (aka CDC # K-17737). According to the prison's recently released incident report, Brown was stabbed and sliced a total of seven times in the prison yard melee that escalated into a riot between a group of black and Mexican inmates. He was attacked near the basketball court on the recreation yard by a group of inmates, identified by R. Rodriguez (Search and Escort Officer #1), as a "known Northern Rider affiliates." Northern Riders are former members of the notorious Northern Mexican prison gang XIV, who reportedly have been kicked out of the Norte and were removed from the mainline of the general population for their own protection.
According to the prison's Lt. Lantz, it was determined that Brown, who is fast recovering from the recent stabbing (carried out with a State issued toothbrush that had eight razor blades taped and tied to it) but is in solitary confinement awaiting transfer, was the victim in this case and will not be facing disciplinary action or criminal charges. But what is most bizarre about this incident, according to Brown's attorney, is that his attackers had, "attempted to extort" the longtime incarcerated Sacramento rapper. "They wanted him to produce and release their rap album," he said of two of the accused inmates (identified simply as "inmates R. Werth and Gonzales"), who are each serving life without the possibility of parole. Apparently, when X-Raided, who oversees the running of the Bloc Star Entertainment rap music label from behind bars, refused to have anything to do with their music, the attackers' plans for the prison yard attack, that happened in late March but is only now being reported on, were hatched.
Our May / June schedule is available online:
Thursday May 13
Two Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
1954, USA, 112 minutes
dir. Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr
7:30, Watch The Trailer!
always love Warren G and Snoop Dogg, but I needed more. Melissa Etheridge lived in Long Beach for a while. We have our share of actors coming from Long Beach, too. The great Brice Beckham from Mr. Belvedere, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen from Saved By the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, Sally Kellerman and Cameron Diaz. But I needed a Shins or Band of Horses type band to come from Long Beach. Everybody wants at least one great indie band to come from their hometown.Avi Buffalo might just be that band.
This album has really blown me away. So great! Really beautiful and fun! Avi met the rest of his band at Millikan High School in Long Beach. These guys are barely out of high school but sound like they have been playing together for 10 years. The record seriously sounds so much better than I could have ever expected. I give some credit to its producer, but at its heart are Avi and his bandmates. He has got one of those weird little voices that you wouldn't really expect to come out of him just by looking at him, sort of like Silversun Pickups. The album really is a big record full of awesome little songs. It is actually pretty short, but I mean big in the way it feels. I was out of town and missed their most recent show but I will be seeing them the next time I get a chance, I hope. My favorite songs are "What's In It For" and "Jessica." They do sort of remind me of MGMT a bit, maybe without the nostalgia retro feeling of that first album. Sub Pop is for sure the perfect home for these guys. The songs all sort of have a melancholy feel to them. I would have believed the band members were all approaching their mid 30's, but once I found out they were so young I tried to figure out if I could even notice it in the album. The lyrics might be a bit younger than I first noticed them to be...but it doesn't really matter. Like the XX, the music is mature way beyond their years. It makes me hopeful for the future of music. Not everything is going to sound like Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana, thank god! Get some Avi Buffalo in your life. You will not regret it.
Last week, I posted details about the new limited deluxe vinyl edition of Folk-Noir duo Ruby Throat’s cult-classic debut, The Ventriloquist. This week , Amoeba Hollywood has just received quantity of Ruby Throat's sophomore full-length recording, Out of a Black Cloud Came a Bird. The album was released in a limited Special Edition CD run in November 2009, but has now been issued in this standard digipak CD edition.
Ruby Throat vocalist KatieJane Garside became quite prolific this past decade with three separate musical projects running in tandem with each other (as well as a one-off LP with Hector Zazou - R.I.P); the long-running Queenadreena with former Daisy Chainsaw cohort Crispin Gray, her solo project Lalleshwari, and Ruby Throat with guitarist Chris Wittingham. While Queenadreena is a bombastic, cathartic and lustfully-charged rush bemoaning innocence lost, Lalleshwari revealed a more rudimentary, internal and transitive process of the artist. With Ruby Throat, Garside draws the characters in her songs as reflective, self-aware and with a sense to the nature of their struggles, though still very much struggling.
Black Cloud finds Garside's unsettling fairytale-stylings firmly rooted in her usual but always powerful psychosexual minefield of hushed lullabye, bluesy belting and bat-shit babelouge. Wittingham's psychedelic soundscapes and dreamy dark Americana-influenced arrangements are richer and fuller here but with the same minimalist bent and care as on the group’s debut.
There are many memorable scenes in the wonderful recently released film Kick-Ass, but the two that stick in my mind most are the first big fight scene featuring the young superhero Hit Girl with its kick-ass accompanying music (the "Banana Splits" theme), and the scene in which the wanna-be superheroes Kick Ass and Red Mist are riding in their souped-up super-ride enjoying their fave song on the car's booming sound system ("Crazy").
At surface the latter scene, which comes just past the half-way mark in the 110 minute movie, looks like it is simply regurgitating that well worn Hollywood scenario in which, typically, two or more guys are in their ride singing along at the top of their lungs to that song (the song that makers hope defines the movie). We've seen it in Wayne's World and million other movies since. But in the refreshingly unique Kick Ass this scene is subtly different.
For starters, Red Mist (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is doing something a superhero is never seen doing; he is smoking a joint, and while driving ("A little weed takes the edge off things when I'm on patrol," he assures his abstaining fellow costumed wanna be superhero riding shotgun). And soon after, as Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" starts playing, the two "costumed vigilantes," looking at once ridiculous and hilarious, do a stupid but highly entertaining seat dance, grooving their heads and upper torsos in unison to the 2006 hit.
The power of this scene, like the rest of this comic-book comedy-action flick, is that it lets the viewer in on the joke, and the strength of Kick Ass is how it allows us in on all the shortcomings of its characters. For example, as we follow the Kick Ass character (played by Aaron Johnson) we clearly see that when he is, in all earnestness, patrolling the dangerous streets of New York, he is just a harmless teen in a costume who could get beaten up at any moment. Of course, the only real superhero in this flick is the tween Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz, just 11 when the film was shot), who steals the film.
I don't think I had seen it again since then, and watching this film again with 9 years more life experience under my belt was enlightening in a way. I kinda can't believe this film ever got made, with its explicitly outsider view of the world and brash bitterness.
That said, Ghost World, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, is hilarious and accurate when it comes to commentary on our ever-more conglomerated modern world and the rough task of even attempting to remain an individual within it. Enid (Thora Birch) and her best friend Becky (Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated from high school -- free at last to blossom further into the budding creative types they already are! But is it possible to grow up and not sell out? I love Enid and Becky's dry, honest take on the people and places that surround them, and how the film portrays adolescent boredom and minutiae in all its pathetic, short-sighted and unabashedly self-assured glory.
When they meet 78 collector Seymour (fully embodied by Steve Buscemi), Enid's world opens up further. She learns about integrity and idiosyncrasy in a way that the surrounding city itself can't teach, with its hip hop jukeboxed "50's" diners and "sell up" policy-laden multiplexes...
My favorite character in the film is Enid's caftan-ensconced, spiky haired art teacher, who has a background in performance art (of course!), played to consummate perfection by Illeana Douglas. In fact, anyone who has sat through a high school art class will no doubt twitter in recognition of and amusement with its particular players, portrayed flawlessly here.
German sophisticates DIAL round up their star-studded ensemble cast for their annual musical yearbook snapshots. Artists like Isolee have been given honorary DIAL status as well, alongside Carsten Jost, Pantha Du Prince, and Efdemin -- with DIAL'S diverse sounds in full effect. Ranging from neo-classical to sumptuous, deep tribal house, and, of course, four-to-the-floor greatness!
Rinse FM have reached their 11th installment, and quality prevails with cutting edge presentations of all things mutant, funky, and dubstep. Oneman shows off his quick-fire mixing skills and ear for blending sweetened old skool garage faves into money-shot boom-brrrap hits. The Rinse FM DJ mix series is where its at, repping the fresh UK sound to its fullest.
Fehlmann's sixth studio album also doubles as a soundtrack to the historical 24HR Berlin documentary. Mr. Fehlmann has succeeded in finding that sweet spot between euphoria and tempered melancholy: Fans of Kompakt's Pop Ambient series should definitely make some time for this.
An actual picture of my Mother (not pictured here).
In honor of this week’s Mother’s Day, I’m dedicating this entry to my Mammy.
I remember Mom liked the house kept quiet so she could concentrate on reading her scripts. It also allowed her to track the progress of the housekeepers; she could hear if they were spending their time talking, how much time they spent scouring the living room tile, etc. It was kind of intense, but not as bad as when she stopped getting decent movie roles and her alcoholism worsened. That’s when she started beating me with coat hangers and…
I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine. -- Roger Ebert
That quote makes me laugh every time I read it. Ebert's disgust helped make the reputation of I Spit On Your Grave, and I'm sure it won't exactly hurt Tom Six's The Human Centipede, either. With the exception of some blood, pus, teeth removal and the European fascination with coprophagia, the film rarely gets much more visually repellent than the shot above. In fact, the feces remain internal to the newly created tripartite body, not shown. But suggestion is enough for creating effective horror. And Six gets a lot of mileage off what his morbid conceit suggests. This is a high (some would say low) concept film that does little more than logically follow the initial premise to its terminal conclusion. Aesthetically, the film is edited along the dialog and looks like DV porn downloaded from the Web, i.e., strictly amateurish. However, the idea of linking people along their gastrointestinal tract is inspired. It combines fear of cosmetic (unnecessary, commercial) surgery with the existential problem of being a mere organ in the social body (to the point of altering one's body to fit the organizational ideal).
The primal horror here isn't like losing one's sense of self to the Borg or alien body snatchers, but retaining a full sense of individuality while having to consciously suppress it in order to make the composite body work. It's the bureaucratic evil that Kafka's heroes always failed in struggling against, with the metaphor being physically realized. Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, playing the Bond villain par excellence) is a self-admitted misanthrope who's a mad scientist version of Fordist industrialism. When the individual units in his creation keep him up at night by making too much noise (think Union organizers), he makes plans to remove their vocal chords (think efficiency expert). He loathes the individual. As he explains to Lindsay (Ashley Williams), the victim closest to escaping, the most willful pit bull became the center piece in his dog centipede. As a sick joke, the frontal position goes to a Japanese tourist (Akihiro Kitamura) who can't speak a word of English (or German) to his conjoined American companions (the tail is played by Ashlynn Yennie).
A typical street in Gardena with strong Japanese character
This here entry’s about Gardena. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
Gardena (in Japanese, ガーデナ; in Korean, 가데나 ) is located in the South Bay or South LA region, depending on your definition. It's a bit odd to consider it South Bay, since it's not on the water. However, there's a perception that it's unlike the rest of South LA, which is erroneously thought of as being much more homogenous than it is.
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Gardena
surrounded by the slender Harbor Gateway to the east and south, Torrance to the southwest, Hawthorne to the northwest, West Athens to the north, and Alondra Park to the west. In recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (and on account of it being voted for by readers), I took the CARDIS on a trip, joined by first time traveling companions Matt and Cheryl. We got some eats (‘n’ drinks) at Azuma and Furaibo, some groceries and goods at Marukai, and deeply inhaled the strawberry scented (and hot) air in Sanrio Surprises.
1) Madlib Madlib Medicine Show #4: 420 Chalice All-Stars (Stones Throw)
2) B.o.B. presents The Adventures Of Bobby Ray (Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
3) E40 Revenue Retrievin'- Day Shift (Heavy on the Grind Ent.)
E40 Revenue Retrievin'- Night Shift (Heavy on the Grind Ent.)
[Tie for #3]
4) Andre Nickatina Khan! The Me Generation (I-Khan Dist)
5) J-Rocc J-Rocc v J-Man (Jazzman)
II) Damu The Fudgemunk How It Should Sound Vol 1 & 2 (Redefinition Records)
Big ups to Inti at Amoeba Music Berkeley for this week's Hip-Hop Top Five Chart, appearing here in both text and video form. Sitting atop the latest chart is the fourth and latest installment in the ever diverse twelve part monthly Medicine Show series from the prolific producer Madlib. For Madlib Medicine Show #4: 420 Chalice All-Stars the mad-busy LA producer serves a mix of roots reggae beats and grooves, keeping it strictly in the ganja mode. In fact, Madlib, known for his love of the sticky icky, not only worked "420" into the title but also deliberately released this CD on the 20th day of the fourth month (aka 4/20) to keep in theme with a non-stop aural assault of roots rock reggae. Furthermore, Madlib oversaw the CD's accompanying 12-page booklet that includes a special supplement listing every medicinal marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles (and there are a lot!). Those who are following/collecting this Madlib Medicine Show series already know that the even-month releases (2,4,6 etc.) are mixtapes like this one while the odd numbers (1,3,5 etc.) are all original material like the Guilty Simpson (Before The Verdict) release that kick-started the series back in January and the next one, Madlib Medicine Show #5: History Of The Loop Digga, 1990-2000, which will drop later this month.
What an amazing and well-deserved rise to fame and recognition it has been for the super-gifted Los Angeles producer/musician Flying Lotus, who performs for free at 7pm tonight (May 6th) at Amoeba Music Hollywood in support of his highly recommended brand new album Cosmogramma.
Only a matter of years ago the now globally respected FlyLo (as he is fondly known by fans, but was born Steven Ellison 26 years ago) was clocking hours as an intern at Stones Throw Records and, in between doing mundane mail room chores, was just trying to get people to listen to his demo instrumental hip-hop productions.
Fast forward to 2010 and he has just completed a US tour (that culminated in a celebrated Coachella set) opening for Thom Yorke's Atoms For Peace. Yorke, a major fan, personally chose FlyLo for the much coveted opening act slot just as he had hand-picked another California producer, DJ Shadow, to open for Radiohead many years back. Not only that, but Yorke also supplies guest vocals on Cosmogramma on one of the album's many jaw-droppingly brilliant tracks. The album, the artist's fourth release and his third for the respected Warp Records label (following 2008's Los Angeles & the previous year's the Reset EP -- his 2006 debut full-length was 1983 on Plug Research), was released on Tuesday this week Stateside (Monday in the UK). And if you don't already have it, go cop it right now at Amoeba. Better still, if you are in Southern Cali today, head over to the Amoeba on Sunset for the instore so that a year and more from now you can gloat to friends, "Oh yeah. I seen em play at Amoeba for free back in the day!"
Our May / June schedule is available online:
Thursday May 6
A Kathryn Bigelow double feature
Actors Bill Paxton & Jenette Goldstein will appear IN PERSON, schedule permitting, to introduce Near Dark!
The Hurt Locker
2009, USA, 131 minutes
directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by Mark Boal
starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
7:30, Watch The Trailer!
Sturmpercht Schattenlieder (Ahnstern)
3-sided double-LP in gatefold-cover with etched vinyl on the 4th side. The masters of Pagan Folk are back with their new album Schattenlieder - eine kleine Nachtmusik für Waldteufel und Berggeister. The album features 20 diverse and unique songs full of alpine mysticism, heathen legends and tales about strange fairies and pagan rites. Schattenlieder entrains you into deep forests, arcane mountains and dark chasms and guides you to hidden places in the depth of the central European forests, where hunters meet strange creatures from dusk til dawn. The album varies between gnarled songs about creepy fairies, catchy folk hymns and dark songs dealing with alpine myths, forest tales and hunter sagas. Schattenlieder is the perfect soundtrack for misty autumn evenings as well as for dark winter nights. The album features a large variety of instruments and sounds -- obscure, strange, folky, psychedelic, but always original and weird, in Sturmpercht's very unique way. Schattenlieder is completely unpredictable -- each track a standalone, but contributing to the overall ambiance of this new benchmark within the Pagan Folk genre. Not for everyone, but a truly bizarre and wonderful release!
These days, my latest crush is on True Blood. At the urging of friends, I began with Season One a few weeks ago and am almost the whole way through it now. Seeing as I am starting at the very beginning here and the show's third season begins in a few weeks on HBO, I know I am kind of late to the game on this, but this whole vampire obsession thing that's been going on these days has had me pretty baffled and disinterested up till now, I must admit. Is it that since it feels like our world is going to hell and a handbasket, more and more people are turning to fantasy worlds, however they can get em, something they can really sink their teeth into? I'm not sure.
I do feel quite sure that the vampire trend in particular is not going anywhere anytime soon, and I do know that in particular I love watching True Blood for the same reason I love watching a show like Mad Men: its world is so incredibly detailed and mesmerizing that I find myself lost in it. Total escapism. So for me in this case, that fantasy theory holds, I guess. I just never was into the whole vampire scene really before. I still don't really think I am, actually, I just like this show.
This is the first in a new Amoeblog series focusing on businesses and organizations in The Town (aka Oakland, CA) including many small, independently run & operated local businesses that are neighbors of the Amoeba Berkeley store, from steps away and up to a one or two, or three mile radius. Kick-starting this new series is the successful North Oakland car rental company Rent-A-Relic. Located on Telegraph at 45th in the Temescal District, Rent-A-Relic has seen their surrounding neighborhood undergo much development since they opened shop back in 1993, with countless other small independently operated businesses (including lots of restaurants) opening up along Telegraph Avenue. Rent-A-Relic, which also offers notary services, is run by Rich, Todd, and Spencer, and anytime you stop into their small offices, odds are that you will hear good music, from Miles Davis to the Minutemen, playing in the background. I caught up with Rich to interview him about operating a business like Rent-A-Relic and about music and radio, among other things. He supplied his Top 5, while Todd supplied his Top 25 -- all below.
Rent-A-Relic Rich's All Time Top Five Albums:
1) Meat Puppets Huevos
This is the debut long-player by Berghain's resident DJ, producer and remixer Marcel Dettmann. Intrinsically tied to the myth that is Berghain by now, the attached label Ostgut Ton and at the same time with the regeneration of no-frills, cleansed and powerful electronic music, Marcel Dettmann managed a daring feat: the production of a truly absorbing and veritable techno album. Spread out over these tracks, Dettmann transports the raw energy, the rough aesthetics and the simple grace of techno. A Berliner-by-choice, the difficult format doesn't bog him down. Neither does he give in to exhausting finger exercises that try to supersede his learned trade, nor does he confront the listener with hasty or brutal tracks that would rather feel at home pressed on a 12" in a DJ-case. Tracks like "Reticle," "Drawing," "Captivate" or "Silex" seem like the convergence of his striking efforts and discography up until now. You get contemplative moments with almost-weightless layers of sound that get used like melodies or chords, rotating with condensed, intensified and sappy snatches. Rigour and austere beauty go hand-in-hand. Surprisingly enough, with a genre that is aware of its own history, Dettmann never falls prey to the dangerous and seductive nature of nostalgia. However, Dettmann sounds as fresh and self-contained as techno nowadays can be. And more so, it once and for all establishes its eponym as a genre mainstay. However described or classified, his music is a successful meditation about the art form we call techno.
Listen to "Captivate" here:
Not to sound like a complete SoCal elitist snob, but I do most of my writing down by the pool, lounging about – in the shade, of course -- often sipping some kind of beverage, sometimes a cappuccino, sometimes a whiskey and soda, Sinatra style. Anyway, this is where I met Marc Ostrick, good neighbor, family man, music aficionado, Scotch connoisseur, raconteur and co-founder of the website eGuiders.com. The site, launched in February of 2009, is in essence your TV Guide to online videos. And starting this past April 1st, Marc began adding original programming to the mix. Shows include eG Live, The Untitled Series, Two Live Jews (featuring Marc and comedian Ed Krasnick) and my favorite show, The B Side Live.
The Castro Theater premiere of Joshua Grannell (aka Peaches Christ)'s brand new film All About Evil was truly the all-out extravaganza of the year here in San Francisco! The 1400 seat historic Castro Theater sold out in record time, and the line was insane outside before the show -- all the way down Castro Street, down 17th Street, and curving around onto at least half of Hartford Street! The line was jammed full of Peaches Christ fans -- some in drag, some wearing wigs, some gothed up, all beside themselves with excited anticipation to feast their eyes upon Joshua's film, which is about a former librarian turned small theater owner whose mantra at ANY cost, even the lives of others in the name of entertainment, is "The show must go on!"
(photo by Jackie Jay)
Search lights added to the premiere ambiance as the crowd gathered and the huge "rush" line for those who did not already have tickets was stretching along Castro Street as well. Peaches Christ arrived, stepping onto the red carpet with her flawed sidekick Martiny and a host of actors from the movie, including Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekker, Mink Stole and more! There were cameras everywhere, capturing the moment for an upcoming documentary of this world premiere event. I ran into the ever-amazing local legend Timmy Spence, who has a small role in the film as the principal of the high school, and he was beyond excited!
As proven by the runaway success of the recent Record Store Day, the demand for, and the overall appreciation of, vinyl records is growing at a most impressive rate. It's clear that records ain't going away anytime soon. Both longtime record collectors and new younger vinyl appreciators weened on MP3's, who seek a warmer, fuller sounding & more tactile alternative, are keeping vinyl alive. As I like to say, you can't put your arms around an MP3. So considering the healthy renaissance that vinyl is currently enjoying, the timing for the forthcoming Jony Lyle directed homage to vinyl records, To Have & To Hold, could not be better.
Vinyl records carry a very deep & profound meaning for those who collect them, as you can see from the above six minute-clip of excerpts from this forthcoming ninety minute documentary that includes interviews with such vinyl aficionados as Questlove, Danny Krivit, DJ Amir, Chuck D, Bobbito Garcia, Christian Marclay, Bruce Lundvall, and Paul Mawhinney,
To Have & To Hold director Jony Lyle, who has opened record shops in Edinburgh and Barcelona and is co-founder of Scratch club in London, Edinburgh and Gothenburg, describes his film as “a musicmentory to celebrate the age of vinyl records.” Featuring a nice mix of all things vinyl, including the aforementioned interviews (all conducted amidst the respective aficionado's record collection), archive footage, record pressing plant footage, and such eye candy for vinyl fiends like myself as the segment filmed at PS1 Contemporary Arts Center in Queens, NY of the 12" records as floor tiles exhibit.
If you're promising "high tension," then you'd better deliver, which is where Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur (director, art director and co-writers) come up short. Whereas a genre film like Martyrs attempts to push the mind somewhere it doesn't want to go, High Tension aims at nothing but pure generic comfort. There are some who never tire of having the same nerves stimulated, but mine just get desensitized. And it's pretty clear that the filmmakers have spent most of their time watching slasher films to the exclusion of most everything else. Incest is no better in art than in biology. Genre insularity produces dumbed down offspring, as can be seen in the work of the Image Comics creators, who never encountered art that wasn't produced by Marvel or DC. Contrariwise, that's why the likes of Georges Franju and Alan Moore have made memorable art in well-worn genres, by adding fresh blood. But, on the plus side, Aja and Levasseur's fanboyishness did at least lead them to the ravishing gore of horror make-up maestro, Giannetto De Rossi. The man knows how to apply a saw to the face.
The film begins with Marie (Cécile De France) psychotically repeating, "I won't let anyone come between us anymore," until she begins her story for the record. This pretty much telegraphs that what's to follow is a flashback, but many viewers felt either cheated or surprised by the "twist" at the end (see Roger Ebert's thumb down) -- the twist being that the protagonist is really the killer. Marie is a thewy girl with a Caesar cut, who harbors an obsessive attraction to her delicate, promiscuous, and long-haired friend, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco). Clearly disgusted by Alex's boycraziness, Marie's barely repressed misandry manifests itself as a feminist caricature of the ultimate macho male, what Judith Levine has labeled "the Beast" (brute, pervert, killer, etc.). Played by Philippe Nahon (who's made the Beast role into leading man material), the Killer looks like the average of every movie serial killer. As a hysterical warning against pornography, he first appears masturbating with a woman's decapitated head. In this persona, Marie butchers Alex's family as a way of "rescuing" Alex from monstrous patriarchy. And because psychosis is involved, the story is being told by an unreliable narrator, who confuses herself not only with the Killer, but with Alex (Marie imagines, or dreams, that it was her asking for help from a passing driver, when it was really her friend).
To simulate this experience, as you read the below story of a day lived, you will be given certain music clips to play. These are inserted to provide you with the same tunes Job was hearing as he was doing what you’ll be reading.
The boyfriend and I need a lamp. Not just any lamp – something that can complete his “reading nook” in the prominent corner of our living room. It must be a lamp that won’t be diminished by our awesome Italian chair (roughly the size of my last apartment) which it will stand behind, be powerful enough to provide the boyfriend with the amount of light he likes in order to read (roughly the brightness of two suns) and, in general, should be hella rad.
So, every Sunday for the past month, he and I have set out into the deliciously temperatured* but cruelly trafficked land of Los Angeles. Armed with my trusty iPod, which I plug into his car – a Lexus with a capacity for smarts exceeding most high school students – its music gives me the fortitude to face another shopping day.