Amoeblog

Harvey Pekar of American Splendor Fame Dead at Age 70

Posted by Billyjam, July 12, 2010 01:39pm | Post a Comment

Harvey Pekar in one of his outspoken appearances on David Letterman's show

Harvey Pekar, the creator of the acclaimed autobiographical comic-book series American Splendor and the subject of the 2003 film of thHarvey Pekar American Splendore same name his work inspired, was found dead by his wife, Joyce Brabner, early this morning in their Cleveland, Ohio home. He was 70 years of age. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death. Pekar and Brabner wrote the book-length comic Our Cancer Year after Pekar was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1990 and consequently underwent an exhausting treatment for the disease.

In addition to his renowned comic book series, Pekar was also a jazz music and book critic, as well as an author of short stories. Pekar won wide exposure in the 1980's for his numerous guest spots on the Late NIght with David Letterman show on NBC, during which he constantly stirred up controversy for speaking his mind and often verbally denouncing the GE corporation, who owned the network Letterman was on. Eventually he was banned (temporarily) from the show. The above Letterman show clip contains some classic Pekar moments with the no-holds-barred Pekar speaking his mind.

But it is for American Splendor that Pekar will be always best remembered. In the brutally honest, autobiographical comic-book series, he portrayed himself, in his mundane everyday trials and tribulations, as a neurotic, anxiety-ridden, obsessive compulsive, far from glamorous, file clerk "from Off the StreeHarvey Pekar RIPts of Cleveland," as the comic's subtitle stated. In real life Pekar worked as a file clerk in the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Cleveland, where he found more than a little inspiration for his work, and continued working there up until his retirement in 2001.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 07:09:10: Big Boi, The Roots, Drake, Eminem, Nas + Damian Marley, DJ Inti, & DaVinci

Posted by Billyjam, July 9, 2010 08:20am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 07:09:10

Big Boi OutKast
1) The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)

2) Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

3) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives  (Republic)

4) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)

5) Drake Thank Me Later (Cash Money Records)

Only released three days ago (July 6th), Big Boi's anticipated new album Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty on Def Jam Recordings, is already at number two on the Amoeba Music Berkeley chart. The 15 track CD also comes in a CD+DVD Deluxe Edition. The Atlanta hip-hop artist is best known as one-half of OutKast and this is his first solo album, so expectations are high. Big Boi has morphed into his Sir Lucious Left Foot alter ego on the new record. As DJ Inti at Amoeba Berkeley accurately points out in the video clip below, generally it is Big Boi's more accessible (and arguably more gifted, lyrically at least) OutKast partner Andre 3000 who gets the most light shed upon him, inevitably upstaging Big Boi's more subtle talents.

Over two years in the making, Sir Lucious was initially slated to come out on Jive Records, but Big Boi was reportedly unhappy with their marketing plan, or rather, lack thereof, and hence he switched to Def Jam. Sir Lucious is by no means a total departure from OutKast -- in fact, not only does Andre 3000 produce a track ("You Ain't No DJ"), but also the overall sound carries that same OutKast vibe and feel, with the Dungeon Family (including the return of Joi) fully representing on the album and featuring Organized Noize (including Sleepy Brown, who also does vocals) & Mr. DJ supplying some production. Others on the record include Salaam Remi (who has worked with such artists as Nas and the Fugees), the Boom Boom Room productions crew, and the hot up-and-coming producer Boi-1da who also lent production to Drake's album Thank Me Later (this week's #5 on the Amoeba chart) on the track "Best I Ever Had" (see video below).

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Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson & John Zorn Controversially Take a Walk on the Free Jazz Side at the Montreal Jazz Festival

Posted by Billyjam, July 5, 2010 11:05pm | Post a Comment

Above is an excerpt from the set that got Lou Reed, John Zorn, and Lauriie Anderson booed onstage and caused unhappy concert goers to walk out on the trio's improv free jazz set Friday (July 2nd) at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Reportedly many ticket holders for the show expected, or were led to believe from the pre-publicity for the festival, that Lou Reed would be playing some of his better known solo songs or some familiar Velvet Underground selections. Hence, when, along with his wife Anderson and avant-garde musician Zorn, he played an all improv set, many in the crowd jeered in disapproval. Others walked out after Zorn, in response to the loud boos plus one attendee shouting "play some real music," told the audience, "If you don't think this is music, you can get the fuck out of here.”

Harsh words? Maybe, but he's absolutely right. Reed even said in a pre-concert interview that they would be playing "100% improvised...non-rock.” Not to mention that it was a jazz festival he was playing at, and his two collaborators were his experimental music artist wife and the king of avant-garde, Zorn.

NYC Summer 2010 Pt. IV - HBO Summer Film Festival Series in Bryant Park

Posted by Billyjam, July 5, 2010 02:00pm | Post a Comment

Trailer for The French Connection (1971), which screens for free tonight in Bryant Park

The always appreciative audience that gathers for the free HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival series on Monday evenings is typically a happy and most vocal bunch. When the movie being projected on the midtown Byrant Park Film Festival Manhattan park's big screen is set in New York City, like tonight (July 5th)'s 9pm screening of The French Connection, the energy in the thousands-strong crowd that packs the lawn tends to be even louder than usual! So expect a lot of cheering along this evening as Gene Hackman, who won an Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of tough smack-talking NYPD narcotics cop Popeye Doyle, runs around New York City in this 1971 William Friedkin directed film that features the greatest car & subway chase of all time.

A New York City summer institution for many years, the Monday night free film series at Bryant Park, which typically screens American classics from the sixties & seventies but sometimes movies from the fifties and earlier, is a social hub where for the four hours prior to the film screening, New Yorkers secure their spot on the vast lawn, have picnics and happily socialize (even the possible thunderstorm is considered a minor distraction).

Until a few years ago it used to be you could arrive anytime during the day to spread out your blanket and secure your vantage point, but after some folks starting showing up as early as 10am to mark their territory for the 8:30 or 9pm screening, the rules changed, so the earliest you can get on the lawn is now 5pm.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 07:02:10: Roots, Drake, Em, Vinnie Paz, Rammellzee (RIP), Jealous Guys, and More!

Posted by Billyjam, July 2, 2010 09:09am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 07:02:10

Drake
1) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)

2) The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)

3) Drake Thank Me Later (Cash Money Records)

4) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives  (Republic)

5) Vinnie Paz Season of the Assassin (Enemy Soil)

As witnessed by this week's Amoeba Hollywood hip-hop chart, with repeat appearances of several recent hip-hop albums, there are some strong 2010 summer releases. One of these top records is Eminem's Recovery, which all agree is a better album than last year's Relapse. That 2009 release was originally meant to be the prequel to Recovery but then the artist changed that plan after wishing to distance himself from what he admitted was an inferior product. Another release that should remain on the charts throughout the summer is The Roots' recommended latest How I Got Over. It's a great release from an equally great band, who, thanks to being the house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show over the past year, are getting wider exposure than ever before. A few weekends ago in Philly on June 5th the band hosted their 3rd Annual Roots Picnic with performances from Vampire Weekend, Jay Electronica, Mayer Hawthorne, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, The Foreign Exchange, Clipse, and hometown hip-hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff, to name but a few. The band themselves also played, of course, and by all accounts it was the best Picnic yet. See video of the event below and read a report here

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