Amoeblog

Privilege

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2008 11:06pm | Post a Comment


I’ve often said coincidence does not exist, but I'll save that diatribe for another time. However, a couple of days ago, and for the first time, not one but two Paul Jones 45’s -- he’s the former lead singer for the 1960’s British invasion band Manfred Mann -- wandered into Amoeba from separate collections. Both of these singles are from the same soundtrack, Privilege, a film released in 1967 starring Paul Jones, who was making his big screen acting debut. Now, two days later, I find out that for the first time ever, Privilege will be released on DVD today. Coincidence or plot? I just don't know. Well, anyway...

The film was directed by Peter Watkins, whose highly controversial anti-nuclear drama The War Game won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (and was soon to be banned in Great Britain). Watkins once again doesn’t stray far from controversy in Privilege. Taking place in a totalitarian English State of the near future, specifically 1970, the dark comic vision of Privilege criticizes the media and its media manipulation, corporate culture and its corporate manipulation. It portrays a time where most everything seems to bounce off the absurd and neurotic teen pop-dom dominating the age and the happily tranquilized population is content with fluffy distractions. The main character, Steven Shorter, played by Paul Jones, is a rock god. His popularity and career have been meticulously engineered by a vast music corporation, reaching dizzying Beatlesque heights. But all this begins to crack when an artist, played by the original supermodel Jean Shrimpton, is hired to paint Steven Shorter’s portrait, and finds an unstable, empty shell of a man, lost in a lonely world, a puppet trapped by the demands of a music business out of control, and a simple singer victimized by all the excess, process, and success. Of course, the artist tries to rescue and prop up Steven Shorter before he becomes yet another statistic in the eternally doomed scenario of recyclable pop stars. But as can only happen in real life and/or rock melodramas, fortunes take a Machiavellian twist when rebellion is only a pop song away. Now that’s entertainment!

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Bad Boys At Nite Pt. 1

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, July 28, 2008 12:10am | Post a Comment
Recently, Joey Jenkins and I were giving Vinylandia its once every 7 years cleaning. I guess you could call it the 7 year itch, maybe the 7 year sneeze, as that's all I did for two days afterwards. You would not believe the amount of dust that accumulates when you are sorting and cleaning vintage vinyl... Anyhow, we found quite a few gems tucked away in all the nooks and crannies. One of the best finds is this collection of covers that Chris Guttmacher has set aside over the years. These are THE  "Bad Boys At Nite"...








Go Forth and Replicate: A Few Thoughts on Advertising, Christian Rock, Mad Men and Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music (2004)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 27, 2008 10:17pm | Post a Comment
I've been letting my Movies We (I) Like blog languish for far too long, so before I get to my Batman critique, I'm adding not one, but two entries to it with in the next couple of days. I'm going to try to add one a week from here on out (we'll see how well that goes). Anyway, until they appear, I won't keep you in suspense: the first pick is the pretty darn good Mad Men (which is a TV show, not a movie, but it's better shot than most movies) and the other is the surprisingly thoughtful and balanced Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music (a documentary about the current Christian rock scene).


Beginning its second season today, Mad Men is about a third-tier agency on Madison Avenue in the early sixties, a time of radical (well, pseudo-radical) change in the world of selling stuff. The first season is set in 1960, following the recent appearance of the famous Volkswagen ads by the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency. William Bernbach was a critic of advertising as a science, instead using it to convey emotions and deep-seated connotations to sell a product. His ads sold you an image of yourself, rather than a laundry list of the product's qualities that were supposed to appeal to you. The approach proved highly successful, and it's why we have the Super-Bowl commercials we do today.


There's a scene in the final episode of the first season where head adman Don Draper sells a campaign for a new slide projector to clients by using snapshots of his own family. So moving is his pitch that one of the other admen, who's currently undergoing some marital woes, has to leave the room lest he be seen crying. Ironically underscoring this heartwarming moment is the whole season where Don has been shown in the company of two mistresses. Advertising is an art that says less about itself or its creators than it does about the intended audience. It's art that's meant to be entirely consumable by being designed with the audience, not artist, in mind. If it's not understood by the target demographic, then it fails as art. That's why it's questionable to even call it art. It's not intended to offer resistance, only acceptance. Any resistance that it offers is purely manufactured, meant to play into a collective mind that wants to see itself as an uncollected group of free-thinking individuals. That Bernbach and others following him could and can walk that line -- selling individualism as a collective commodity -- is the evil brilliance of late-20th century advertising. 


I was thinking of Bernbach's movement and that scene from Mad Men while watching Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music, named after the song from Larry Norman. Norman serves as the inspirational spirit for the film, promoting God while still managing to make music that could exist on its own terms. I don't know about the rest of his stuff, but that song's pretty catchy. I love country songs about Jesus, hillbilly sacred harp, classic Gospel, old Southern and Negro spirituals, et al., but the closest I ever came to being inspired by so-called contemporary Christian was dropping acid at a Stryper show (someone had to do it, and therein lay my inspiration). When a womanizing boozer like Kris Kristofferson asks "why me, Lord," one gets the sense of some struggle going on between his beliefs and his actions.  That sort of struggle gives the song an air of authenticity. But when Michael Sweet and his band sing they're "soldiers under God's command," one gets the message that this is metal being sanitized for the easily contaminated. Little has changed since when they were on top.


Most of the bands featured in Heather Whinna and Vickie Hunter's documentary sound like particular secular bands, just with special lyrics. The ones escaping this marketing pigeonholing tend to do so by sounding so generic that they can't be ascribed a particularized label. That strategy was employed by Stryper during the metal heyday, obtaining secular acceptance by sounding blandly like the genre, rather than the Christian-Iron Maiden or -Van Halen. 


The fundamental problem with Christian rock is that, rather than build on an authentically religious tradition of struggle, it's made to serve two masters: mass culture and fundamentalism. It fails both because it has no soul, no aesthetic inner life, being entirely outwardly directed. Like a modern ad, it tells you no more than what you already bring to the table. On the one hand, it's designed to appeal to the "secular audience" (i.e., the largely Christian audience in the U.S. -- if the census is any indication -- that aren't Christian enough for the extremists). Here the connotation is that Evangelicals are just like you (evidently just as bland as you), and after conversion you can keep on liking the same stuff that you liked in your heathen days. This message is doomed to fail, I suspect, because it's saying there is no essential change in who you are when coming over to their side, so why bother? On the other hand, the music is designed to appeal to the "Christian audience" (i.e., those teens raised with a severe pop cultural immune-deficiency order) who really like music, but live in fear of its not serving God, only itself -- in a word, idolatry. By giving the fundamentalist youth what they want, the ability to rock, while only reinforcing their cultural seclusion, the music is depleted of its potential aesthetic-objective vitality, instead serving as agitprop. In making rock music easily consumable, the dialectic between beliefs and the world is cut short. The religiously conservative audience doesn't have to struggle with popular art any more, because it's now being made with only one message in mind: buy Christian. With the Christian rock scene, the religion has become just as much of a commodity as the music that it copies, easily consumable in one's leisure time.


Callisto - Jupiter IV in Entertainment

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 27, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
CALLISTO



Callisto was discovered by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610. It was named by Simon Marius after a nymph in Greek mythology who was associated with Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. In the Grecian religion, Zeus took the form of Artemis to seduce Callisto because she didn't fancy the fellow. Then he raped her.



Its diameter is approximately 99% that of Mercury's. It orbits Jupiter. The surface is primarily dominated by impact craters which cover it almost to the point of saturation. However, underneath the surface of rocks and ice is a salty subsurface ocean 100km deep*.

  

Jupiter Moon, the "Jupiter Jazz" episode of Cowboy Bebop and the Sporilla from Terrahawks

Above the surface, a thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide coats the icy world. NASA's Revolutionary Concepts for Human Outer Planet Exploration has named the world as the favorite for a future Jupiter base.

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SAN FRANCISCO'S LATE 70's PUNK SCENE BY BRUCE CONNER (RIP)

Posted by Billyjam, July 26, 2008 05:14am | Post a Comment
Bruce Connor collection @ BAM/PFA
There is just a week left to catch the recommended BAM/PFA (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive) photo exhibit by Bruce Conner, who sadly passed three weeks ago In San Francisco, reportedly from a liver ailment. The exhibit focuses on the one year period in the late seventies (77-78) Conner spent taking photos of both punk bands and punk fans at the infamous West Coast punk palace the Mabuhay Gardens (aka "The Fab Mab" -- the dismal failing Filipino supper club that would be saved/immortalized by punk rock) on Broadway in San Francisco.

The fifty three Bruce Conner photos on display at the BAM/PFA, which act as an excellent historic overview of the early SF punk scene, include wonderful action shots of bands and artists including Frankie Fix of Crime, the Mutants, Penelope Houston of The Avengers, and Negative Trend's Will Shatter (who later went on to form Flipper).

Multi media artist Bruce Conner, who the curators at BAM/PFA aptly describe as  "a proto-punk provocateur who scavenged cultural waste to construct his assemblages," ended up doing the photo series by mere coincidence. In the late 70s, Conner was 44 years of age and an established avant-garde artist who created film mash-ups from a mixed bag of found sources and whose rich legacy dated back to the SF 1950's Beat scene. While attending Devo's first ever San Francisco show in 1977, Conner crossed paths with V. Vale, now the publisher of RE/Search magazine, who was about to launch the seminal punk zine Search & Destroy

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