I am first and foremost a simpleton. No news flash there. On occasion a “reasonably intelligent” accusation is hurled in my direction, but I’m probably more at home dancing along the edge of idiocy. But contrary to the proof you might read here, I’m not quite the Nijinsky of Idiocy. That takes fortitude, and though the phrase has a nice ring to it (I honestly wouldn’t mind such a caption adorning my tombstone), I believe the Nijinsky of Idiocy should, at least for the next few days or so, go to Ashley Todd in Pittsburg, who is this year's gift to Halloween. She’s the woman who fabricated being assaulted at an ATM and claimed to have had a “B” carved into her face because she was a McCain supporter. Maybe idiocy isn’t the problem here. I like to think true idiocy often tandems with clever, and with a sprinkling of clever, an actual idiot can invent fanciful, imaginary situations to play with in the house of the bored. Add a few well placed twisted characters to the story line, a bit of grit, and genius may blossom (well, that’s my personal and optimistic idiotic hope). Actually, Ashley Todd’s misadventure isn’t idiotic, nothing's about to flower. It falls short. It’s asinine. It's hateful. It's dildoic. There's no panache, no élan, just a stiff half-cocked punch line without a set up. So as my fraction of an idea on three hours of sleep swerves past this week’s car wreck, here is a quote I think Ashley Todd, perhaps unknowingly, took to heart on her trip down the aisle of American paranoia -- from W. C. Fields, “If you can't razzle them with dazzle, baffle them with bullshit.” Though, this quote also fits: “The human race has gone backward, not forward, since the days we were apes swinging through the trees.”
On Saturday, October 25th, Amoeba sponsored an event coinciding with the drop of the new version of Guitar Hero, entitled Guitar Hero: World Tour. As you may or may not have heard, Amoeba is featured in the game as a playable level which is unlocked as you play through the "Tour" career mode of the game. So naturally, to celebrate the release of Amoeba's first venture into the video game world, the folks of Amoeba Berkeley had a wee soiree down the street at Blake's On Telegraph. The event was held on the top two floors of the three floor bar, where patrons could not only be the first ones to purchase the new game, but could also demo a single guitar version for Xbox 360, or the full Rock Band version on the PS3.
This is the first time that a Guitar Hero title has been sold with the full Rock Band set up, including an updated guitar (now 25% bigger and with a sunburst finish), an updated drum set (similar to the Rock Band 2 drum set with 3 drum pads and 2 "cymbal" fan pads to better recreate the feel of a real drum kit), and my personal favorite, the microphone. Unfortunately for yours truly, my voice had been rendered useless by a cold, so I could not belt "Living On A Prayer" at the top of my lungs.
The set up of the event was pretty neat, with DJ Vinnie Esparza spinning a great mix of tunes varying from Latin soul breaks, to artists you would assume would be played at a Guitar Hero event: Sabbath, Maiden, Slayer, etc. Before entering the event I had wondered how we could have a DJ and multiple versions of the mainly musical game all going at the same time. Upon arriving, however, I saw that the game stations were equipped with nice headphones for each person, so they could hear the rock, while not interrupting the bar's other alcoholics.
The expression conjures denim-y visions of long-haired axe '70s victims on stadium stages, tossing their ringlets while shooting out silvery torrents of liquid metal... Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Ritchie Blackmore, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton for God's sake... whammy bars whamming, wah-wahs wawwing, while the smokepots explode, the amps overload, the groupies squeal and the wastoids drool... THE GUITAR HERO. A mythical metal man with a Strat, stealing from the rich and shredding to the poor!
The great hard rock and heavy metal guitarists have been well-documented and complimented to death. BUT DID YOU KNOW... there's another kind of guitar hero out there? Just as heroic, but more flannely? More of a van- riding kind of hero, modestly sqwawking his stuff on the beer-soaked stages of the alternative landscape? Not your ordinary guitar hero, I'm talking about.. the INDIE ROCK GUITAR HERO.
Yes, it's true, there are indie rock guitar heroes too! Dare I say it! We self-loathing, mumbling indie types have our own low-budget version of the big-rig metal demigod, and to my mind some of them are just as wanktastic and wailing as the big guys, and deserve a little blogspace. Now, once we get into this, there are gonna be opinions and opinions. I myself am more of a fan than an expert, and I certainly suck at guitar, so I hereby humbly present to you my own biased and incomplete and endlessly revisable list of
indie rock guitar heroes. Dispute these choices and add your own!
Amoeba Music and Phil Blankenship are proud to present some of our film favorites at Los Angeles’ last full-time revival movie theater. See movies the way they're meant to be seen - on the big screen and with an audience!
Saturday November 1
1988, 91 min
director: Graham Baker
starring: James Caan, Mandy Patinkin & Terence Stamp
New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
November 8 The Stepfather
(Daddy's Home and He's Not Very Happy!)
November 15 Title TBA
November 22 Waxwork
(20 Anniversary! More fun than a barrel of mummies!)
November 29 Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon
(Now, when I say, "Who's da mastah?" you say, "Sho'nuff!")
December 6 Title TBA
December 20 Title TBA
December 27 New Year's Evil
Yesterday (Oct 28th), with exactly one week to go before the most crucial presidential election in recent American history and at a time when the nation is in its worst economic state in many long decades, emcee Paris' new album Acid Reflex (Guerrilla Funk - Fontana - Universal) arrived in Amoeba Music and other stores across this troubled nation.
For the ever-politically outspoken Bay Area hip-hop artist, whose two-decade long career has been a series of confrontations with the establishment, the timing seems perfect to unleash this lyrically charged new album, the latest in a series of incendiary releases that include the post 9/11 Sonic Jihad and the 1992 album Sleeping With The Enemy, featuring the highly controversial song "Bush Killa" which resulted in him getting him booted off the Warner Brothers distributed Tommy Boy Records at the time.
The new Paris album, Acid Reflex, which tackles just about every issue and problem facing America today, is not only (in my opinion) the best, most lyrically engaging album of this year, but it is also one that harks back to a forgotten time in hip-hop when the genre was rich with high-profile artists who used the medium as a platform for social and political debate. I recently sat down with Paris to talk about the state of hip-hop today & his history as an artist, his label Guerrilla Funk, the economy, next week's election, and other issues addressed in the new album Acid Reflex, including the current trend in America of scapegoating immigrants. Here's what he had to say.