Amoeblog

AMOEBADOG BLOG III - SUKI, STELLA, & CUGAT

Posted by Billyjam, October 30, 2007 11:31pm | Post a Comment

This is the third installment of the AMOEBLOG featuring Amoeba Dogs (dogs in some way closely connected to Amoeba Music -- usually the pets and best friends of Amoeba Music employees in the Hollywood, Berkeley, or San Francisco stores.) The three fine canines featured in this AMOEBADOG blog are Cugat and Stella (that is Stella pictured left), both of whom are the best friends of Oliver (Amoeba Music floor manager and electronic music buyer) and also Suki, who is the pet and best friend of Brandi Shearer, the Amoeba Music recording artist who recently released the album Close To Dark and who, you will recall from the last Amoeba Dog Blog Part II, knitted a doggie sweater for Amoeba Dog Melina.

I asked both Brandi and Oliver to talk a little about their respective pooches: the basics, such as what breed, age or weight the dogs might be and also how they originally got their canines (something that is often really interesting, I find). I also asked them both what their dogs really mean to them and if they have any significant impact on their lives.


CUGAT & STELLA

Oliver shared with the AMOEBLOG that Cugat (pictured right) should never be judged by his diminutive scale, warning, "Cugat at four years old may only weigh in at a mere 3.2 pounds, but [he] can scare you off just as much as any Pitbull.

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COUNTRY MUSIC GREAT PORTER WAGONER DIES AT AGE 80

Posted by Billyjam, October 29, 2007 08:13am | Post a Comment
porter wagoner wagonmaster
Country music legend and longtime Grand Ole Opry host Porter Wagoner died last night (Oct 28th) of lung cancer at age 80, according to a news report posted on the Grand Ole Opry website.  Always a fighting spirit, Wagoner was active for most of his years, despite the fact that just a little over a year ago he had been seriously ill after suffering an intestinal aneurysm. He somehow overcame this serious medical prognosis to make a miraculous recovery followed by a career comeback with a series of memorable performances, including a wonderful appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman (see the video clip of it below). Wagoner also played Madison Square Garden as opening act for the White Stripes at the insistence of the Stripes, who are huge fans of Wagoner's music. Unfortunately since he went on so early, not a lot of folks had already arrived at the cavernous midtown Manhattan arena. Throughout his career Porter Wagoner boasted over eighty songs on the country music chart, nineteen of them duets with Dolly Parton, whose career he helped launch and whose careers are often connected. They were named "country duporter wagonero of the year" in 1970.

Truly a country music vet, Wagoner had recently celebrated his fiftieth year in the Opry (he joined the Opry in 1957) and a little earlier this year released the critically acclaimed album Wagonmaster on ANTI Records. Look for it along with other recordings from the Missouri-born artist in the country sections at Amoeba Music. Today's LA Times summed up Wagoner's legacy accurately by writing, "His showmanship, rhinestone suits and pompadoured hair made him famous, with his own syndicated TV show, The Porter Wagoner Show, for 21 years beginning in 1960. It was one of the first syndicated shows to come out of Nashville, and it set a pattern for many others." For more information on the late, great Porter Wagoner visit his official website.

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FRANK ZAPPA DEFENDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN MUSIC

Posted by Billyjam, October 28, 2007 08:30pm | Post a Comment

Back in 1986, when this heated debate on Crossfire was broadcast, the beginnings of the current era of censorship in popular music were just unfolding (meaning the era that began with the PMRC). In this must-see, 20 minute clip from the CNN show, the late, great self-described 'conservative' Frank Zappa goes head to head with arch conservative John Lofton of the Washington Times. Of course, Zappa had been in the center of this fight against popular music since his career began decades earlier, defending both the music and freedom of speech, but he was most publicly vocal during this mid eighties round which had begun the previous year, 1985, when the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center), the music censorship organization that was founded by then-Senator Al Gore's wife Tipper Gore and included many other political wives, first came about.The PMRC and Lofton in this debate were most vocal about such songs as Prince's "Darling Nikki," which was accused of promoting incest and videos such as Van Halen's "Hot Ffrank zappaor Teacher," which is included below. Note that the arrival of the PMRC around the same time as MTV's meteoric early years, with its obvious influence on mainstream America, was no coincidence.

In September 1985 Frank Zappa testified before the US Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the PMRC and making a historic statement that said the PMRC's proposal to ban certain rock music was an "ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal's design. It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation. (...) The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like. What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow "J" on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?"

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MAC OF SUPERCHUNK/MERGE SPEAKS IN SENATE RE RADIO'S FUTURE

Posted by Billyjam, October 26, 2007 03:17pm | Post a Comment

This week Mac McCaughan (left) of the bands Superchunk and Portastatic and the influential label Merge, which has released approx 300 albums to date and which he launched  along with fellow Superchunk member Laura Balance,  spoke to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation at a hearing titled "The Future of Radio." The hearing, which is not to be confused with the House of Representatives' Girl Talk-referencing copyright hearing from several months ago, took place on Wednesday, October 24th and is available in full transcript in PDF file by clicking here (finally your tax dollars at work doing something worthwhile).

According to the Committee's website, the purpose of the "The Future of Radio" hearing was to "assess the state of innovation and competition in the radio market." And the Superchunk singer/guitarist's testimony stressed the importance of the role that non-commercial radio has played in introducing independent musicians to wider audiences. He mentions Merge Records' instances like the Arcade Fire and Spoon -- two highly successful bands whose albums this year debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. McCaughan also addressed the power of the internet, as well as the importance of maintaining network neutrality so that commercial and technological experimentation can continue. Additionally, McCaughan urged the Committee to resist corporate pressure to loosen ownership restrictions in order to avoid a potential media monopoly, something that many others have voiced concern over. 

In addressing the hearing Mac accurately noted that it has been reported "that the FCC is considering altering the media ownership rules again and loosening the local ownership caps to allow major radio groups to buy even more stations in each market. No matter what your tastes in entertainment or news, if you value localism, competition and diversity, Congress and the FCC must recognize that further deregulation is not the answer."  A true supporter of independent and alternative artists, he also noted that artists who "thrive outside of the commercial realm depend on and deserve open access to public platforms such as the airwaves and the internet. Likewise, communities and citizens should have access to localized and diverse media. This is not just a means of doing business, but also an important facet of American life that needs to be nurtured and protected."

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REMEMBERING VINCENT PRICE & THEATRE OF BLOOD

Posted by Billyjam, October 25, 2007 07:46pm | Post a Comment
vincent price
Today I spill a lil on the curb for the late, great Vincent Price, who died exactly 14 years ago on October 25th, 1993. A truly great and most unique American actor, Price will be forever remembered for his distinctive voice and the semi-serious/semi-comedic roles he played in countless horror films. He will also be remembered to some for such things as hosting the PBS television series Mystery! in the 1980's and for adding the ghostly voice-over at the beginning of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." 

Vincent Leonard Price was 82 years of age when he died of  complications from emphysema and Parkinson's disease. He was still active up to within a few years of his death; one of his last major film roles was a part in the movie Edward Scissorhands. That last film of his, which saw him in a smaller role due to his ill health, was in 1990 and capped an extremely long, illustrious, and most prolific film career. It began for the actor in 1938 and included well over a hundred films -- many available on DVD at Amoeba Music. Two of my personal favorite Vincent Price films are House of Wax (1953) and Theatre of Blood (1973) -- the latter vincent pricebeing the very first film of his I ever saw and the one that got me hooked on his ever-engaging on-screen persona. The film is pure, brilliant horror and suspense with just the perfect balance of humor -- the sort of film that makes most of today's over-the-top on special effects but low on anything else so-called "horror" flicks pale in comparison.

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