Amoeblog

As Not Heard on Pandora -- After fourteen years, the best music streaming site is still deeply flawed

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 28, 2014 01:36pm | Post a Comment
m"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.”
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
     ― Cicero, Letters to His Friends, Vol 2: Books 7-12

Pandora Internet Radio is an amazing service. Since joining in 2008, it has introduced me to more great music than the AM/FM radio, my friends, and working in a record store have combined. Listeners like me have helped build Pandora into the most popular service of its kind – essentially a sort of online music library – but one not without major flaws.

John William Waterhouse: Pandora, 1896
John William Waterhouse: Pandora, 1896

Most of the complaints made about Pandora -- at least in the media -- relate to its paltry artist payments and high profile protestations that they're too high. One of my own frustrations is that I can't simply ban certain artists from all of my channels with a single click. I don't mind the advertisements much, understanding that Pandora needs to generate money if its going to pay the artists those peanuts but I would actually welcome interruptions if they were to alert me, based upon my listening, to upcoming concerts and in-stores in my area and not just advertisements to shows like X Voice Idol Talent that I will never watch and Mercedes that I will never drive – nobody drives in LA!! A more cusomizable profile might make for more sensical, and thus more effective, advertising and connection to the music world.

Visiting Orange County's Little Seoul -- Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 19, 2014 07:53pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO LITTLE SEOUL 

Welcome sign at Brookhurst
Welcome sign at Brookhurst

Drive down Garden Grove Boulevard with your windows up (paying proper attention to the road in front of you) and you might not notice that you're passing through Little Seoul. There are no banners, memorials, murals, monuments or that many fluttering South Korean flags. Pass through on a bus and maybe you'll notice the Hangul signs and blue tile roofs. The best way to experience Little Seoul, despite some drawbacks, is by walking in it – although your hair might pick up the smell like bulgogi by the end of your ramble. The other day I headed over there to explore it, accompanied by Una Zipagan and host of the excellent Notebook on Cities and Culture podcast, Colin Marshall

Another blue tile community
Another blue tile community

*****


Visiting Little Saigon -- Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 13, 2014 04:51pm | Post a Comment

INTRO TO LITTLE SAIGON

Little Saigon

Southern California is home to several ethnic enclaves and since the region's largest and fastest growing racial minority are Asian, perhaps it's not surprising that most of the recognized neighborhoods are specific to various Asian populations. In Los Angeles County there's Cambodia Town, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Little India, Little Osaka, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town. Orange County is home to Little Arabia (Arabs being geographically Asian if not -- by most people's reckoning -- racially so), Little Seoul, and Little Saigon -- the latter of which is little in name only.

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The Filipino New School Freestyle Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 5, 2014 06:06pm | Post a Comment

Freestyle is a type of dance-pop music that evolved from Hi-NRG, Electro, and Hip-Hop in the early 1980s — primarily in New York City and specifically the South Bronx. Due to the ethnic and musicological background of some of its producers, performers and many of its fans, Freestyle was originally often referred to as Latin Hip-Hop. After enjoying a period of crossover popularity in the second half of the 1980s, Freestyle stopped being a major musical force in mainstream but was kept alive by a cult largely comprised surprisingly perhaps, largely of Filipinos.


Freestyle CD covers
Freestyle CD covers from the Geocities Era

In the early 1980s listeners could still discern the unique cultural contributions that made pre-corporate Hip-Hop a complex Afro-Caribbean-Hellenic-Italo-Teutonic gumbo. The syncopated rhythms of Electro-Funk owed their popularity to Nuyoricans’ central importance in the emerging subculture. Electro-Funk branched into something distinct (what came to be known as Freestyle) in 1982 and ’83, with the release of songs like Planet Patrol’s “Pay At Your Own Risk,” C-Bank’s “Get Wet,” and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” and the production efforts of figures like John Robie & Arthur Baker, The Latin Rascals, and Mark Liggett & Chris Barbosa.
 

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A look at Tsukioka Yoshitoshi on his 175th birthday

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 30, 2014 12:32pm | Post a Comment
Portrait of Yoshitoshi
Kanaki Toshikage portrait of Yoshitoshi

One of Japan's greatest artists, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, was born on this day in 1839, which I reckon makes it as good a time as any to blog about him. For those unfamiliar, Yoshitoshi is widely regarded as one of ukiyo-e's greatest innovators, as well as its last major practitioner. He produced an enormous body of work (about 10,000 pieces by some estimates) although he's best known for his bloody pieces -- which comprise a large chunk of his oeuvre. After falling out of fashion amongst Japanese art collectors, he was "rediscovered" in the 1970s and is now rightfully placed amongst the ukiyo-e greats.

*****

Yoshitoshi was born Owariya Yonejiro (米次郎), in the Shimbashi district of Edo (now Tokyo), in 1839. His Photographic portrait of Yoshitoshifather, Owariya Kinzaburō, was a wealthy merchant and samurai. The identity of his mother is unknown, although Kinzaburō's mistress, apparently not wanting the share their home with the child, sent him off to live with an otherwise childless relative, Kyōya Orizaburō, when Yonejiro was about three. At the age of five, after showing interest in art, the pharmacist uncle (or cousin by other accounts) began offering the young boy art instruction.

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