Amoeblog

Journey to the Beatles - The Moribund Course of Music-Related Video Games

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 9, 2010 01:00pm | Post a Comment
With the recent availability of the music by a scouse four piece known as The Beatles [sic] they could now become the biggest Liverpudlian musical export since The Top or maybe even The La's. This followed their release of 2009's video game The Beatles Rock Band. With a sound that was obviously indebted to The Everly Brothers, The Miracles and Buck Owens, no one ever accused the Fab Four of being innovators. Indeed, the concept of a band promoting their music with video games goes back 28 years to a now-forgotten five-piece called Journey, whose brand of radio-and-roller rink-ready pop/rock once brought favorable comparisons to the likes of Night Ranger, John Waite and Mr. Mister.

Journey Escape ad Journey Escape Screenshot

That first rock band video game was Journey Escape (1982). In it you have to help guide a faceless ginger (see above screen shot) through the night sky, past disembodied Italian heads and lilac-colored jelly beans with legs to the famous scarab ship that was, frankly, my favorite thing about the band. Occasionally, a character that looks like the Kool-Aid Man comes to your aid.
Journey video game 1983 journey video game title screen Journey video game concert

I haven't played the game's sequel, Journey (1983) but I was transfixed by the title screen as a kid. 

Monterey Park or, 蒙特利公园市 - "Pride in the past, Faith in the future", or "在過去的傲慢,信仰的未來"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2010 07:00pm | Post a Comment

Monterey Park aerial shot

This blog entry is about the Los Angeles County community of Monterey Park. To vote for more Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future blog entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here.

Map of the San Gabriel Valley

Monterey Park is located on the western edge of the San Gabriel Valley at the junction of the Eastside and SELACO. It is surrounded by Alhambra to the north, San Gabriel to the northeast, Rosemead to the east, South San Gabriel to the southeast, Montebello to the south, East L.A. to the southwest, and Lincoln Heights to the west.

The J-Pop Don't Stop: Amoeba Music Took to the Streets for the 2nd Annual J-Pop Summit!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, September 20, 2010 09:31am | Post a Comment
This weekend I had a blast workin' it with my fellow J-Pop enthusiasts at the Amoeba Music booth during the 2nd annual J-Pop Summit street fair in San Francisco's Japantown! In terms of people watching alone this was an affair that almost eclipses the Pride parade or Halloween masquerade in that it's virtually a marriage of the two festive events announcing the birth of their fresh to death Japanese love child.
j-pop summit japanese culture fashion gothic lolita music art style design j-pop summit malice mizer girl japanese fashion culture music rock visual kei black japantown new people
With a table overflowing with both popular and rare J-pop CDs, LPs and DVDs, we stayed busy all day mixing with the ever shuffling crowd that stopped by to pick through the goods we stood by. Chic ladies dressed and tressed in their Loli finery (pictured above) pined for idol artists like Nana Kitade, Mana's Malice Mizerand an astounding avalanche of Gackt offerings, while others plucked hard to find anime soundtracks and bargain priced boxed sets (including a boxed Pink Lady vinyl collection, the complete Zatoichi films boxed set, as well as the Ultraman television series on DVD) from the broad selection.
j-pop summit new people fashion amoeba music j-pop summit new people lolita fashion amoeba music japan culture
 From all of us here at Amoeba Music: thanks to all the fans, otaku or otherwise, who stopped by our booth to chat and shop our wares, thanks to all those costumed folks who consistently made the day by merely mosying through our field of vision, and, lastly, thanks to all the other vendors (especially the purveyors of fine shaved ice delights!) for making our appearance at this years' J-Pop Summit a memorable experience! どうもありがとうございました!また来年よろしくお願いいたします!
j-pop summit amoeba music booth japanese culture pop dvd cd lp

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, April 8, 2010 09:51am | Post a Comment
great happiness space documentary feature host club bars osaka tale of love thief issei lonely japan culture society nightlife
For many citizens of the Western hemisphere Japan remains a strange place chock full of exotic and inscrutable cultural asymmetries. It is a place where paying to "fall in love" with a stranger you cannot meet outside of a designated place, you cannot call upon as need dictates and, in many cases, you cannot touch under any circumstances whatsoever is sometimes preferred to falling in love the complicated way, the old fashioned way, for mutual appreciation's sake. But then perhaps that is what makes so many Japanese justify the risk of succumbing to economic ruin to patronize hostess and host bars, financially worshiping their quarries, spending as much as $10,000 a night to ultimately "fall in love" with their fantasies. Seeing this kind of scenario playing out over and over again like a demented, downward spiraling carousel in The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, a documentary feature that vignettes the life and times of Rakkyo Cafe (a popular Osaka host bar) with special focus fixed on their top selling host, Issei (22), and the staff of twenty young male escorts who all benefit from Issei's tutelage, is a compelling voyeuristic experience so emotionally harrowing that it almost made me wish my heart were a stomach so that it could barf.
great happiness space tale of osaka love thief documentary film host bar rakkyo issei japan culture nightlife
I remember my first exposure to the world of hosts and host bars in the form of a brochure put into the basket of my bicycle as I passed through a busy intersection in Osaka. I had no idea what manner of publication it was; upon first glance I assumed that it was some kind of fashion magazine judging by the pretty girls on the cover, but perusing it later I realized that the the girls were actually boys and the fashion magazine was more like a catalog of host bar "menus" displaying glossy over-lit portraits of the boys whose companionship you would purchase for a spell buffered by ads calling for young women who fancied designer goods and other expensive sundries to consider employment of a certain kind to support their extravagant tastes. The general obscenity of these ads, however, took a backseat to my immediate fascination with the appearance of the hosts, whose hair-stories and accessorized flair shared a similarity of outlandishness that baffled my mind delightfully. It was like flipping through a guide for a zoo that specialized in Japanese peacocks who all toiled to attain a similar high-style reminiscent of any tough British rock star who sold out in the eighties. I have to admit I was taken with the absurd cocksure posturing, but do these men really possess a vision of what women want by Japanese standards? Definitely one of those things that make you go hmmm...
host bar group photo hosts great happiness space tale osaka love thief documentary japan culture nightlife
While watching The Great Happiness Space wasn't a total downer, it packed none of the laughs I expected to glean from my limited exposure to what I considered to be the most ridiculous existence of hosts and the host bar phenomenon. Though I think this film would make for great conversation concerning gender issues, I also didn't get the impression that the lady patrons of Rakkyo Cafe's hosts were winning anything back for the oppressed women of Japan like I had expected. Indeed, their role in the host/client relationship signifies a double-victimization for women in that the men exercise absolute control of their many paid relationships plus the fact that the majority of Rakkyo Cafe's regulars interviewed for the film held jobs in the mizu shobai, Japan's nightlife working sector, whether they be employed at cabarets, hostess bars, touch bars, "soap lands," or engage in outright prostitution in order to capably afford satisfying their need to feel needed by their host of choice and, at Rakkyo Cafe, Issei-san is most definitely in high demand.
great happiness space issei number one host tale of an osaka love thief japan culture host bar nightlife
But what makes Issei so popular? According to his co-workers he's a master of his trade, saying and doing anything women want of him, all the while reading any situation he finds himself in and playing the role that best suits his clients' needs and his desire to ultimately maintain command of the money flow. This has also put him in a position of getting as much ass as he gets cash, "I was having nonstop sex," he says of his ascension to the top-selling host in his district and his willingness to let women have their way with him -- "sex with 365 girls a year." So many of Issei's regular girls openly claim an addiction to his person, one completely whacked chick claiming that her "life without Issei is unimaginable right now," that watching his interactions with them casts a shadow over his character, a demonizing that Issei himself recognizes as one of the many hazards of the job. He also is forced by trade to consume more alcohol in an evening than most folks do in a month, as much as ten bottles of champagne per night, drinking, throwing up and drinking as many times as necessary just to keep it up. "I think my liver is fucked," he says. Of course, the hosts at Rakkyo Cafe are available by the hour for their company but they also depend on generating revenue by pushing pricey drinks on their patronesses. Bottles of champagne, consumed by the disco-lit pitcher-full, range from $250 to $600 for average priced fare and up to $5,000 for the high rollers. There is also at least one exclusive seat in the house: if Issei is entertaining ladies in the main part of the bar a client can pay a premium for a private audience with Issei in a special seat secluded from the crowd for an additional charge of $50 per hour, which, now keep in mind that average hosts earn a monthly paycheck of $10,000, for Issei-san a good month usually nets $50,000 --- cha-ching!
great happiness space osaka host bar minami issei japanese culture nightlife city
However, the scene fades to its bleakest when the hosts, after hours, talk each other out of feeling any moral conflict for leading their clients forever onwards, breaking hearts, emptying wallets and enabling young women to sell flesh for the purpose of supporting such an costly addiction as pleasurable soul-searching with the boys of Rakkyo Cafe. This film draws the viewer into the never-neverland that is the Osaka host bar scene, portrays the twisted interrelationships inherent to the varied and never-short-on-creativity nightlife industries in Japan without taking sides, and forces viewers to explore their own conclusions in the end. Thanks to this excellent documentary I am pleased to know more about this subject than I'd have ever learned flipping through my slick souvenir host catalog I received once upon a time in Osaka and I find that I am plagued with a host, pun intended, of real questions concerning the host bar phenomenon that weren't answered or even addressed by this film. Here's hoping there are others like The Great Happiness Space director Jake Clennell who seek to shed more light on the intricacies that lie down the darkened corridors of Japan's modern "Floating World."

LOVE IS PRESSING A RECORD AS A TOKEN OF ETERNAL COMMITMENT

Posted by Billyjam, February 14, 2010 06:47pm | Post a Comment
Acco + Top Bill
Love is......well, love is many, many things, including, of course, the inspiration for innumerable songs. But perhaps the highest form of love is to make a record for the one you love as a token of your eternal commitment. Amoeblog reader and sometime contributor Acco, who lives in Japan and did the five part Graffiti in Yokohama Amoeblog series, did this when she got married to Top Bill some months back. For their wedding ceremony they had a special hip-hop song recorded and pressed up on 7" vinyl and nicely packaged to give away to guests at their wedding party.

The track, "Coupling Song," was produced by Top Bill, a Japanese hip-hop DJ/producer who lived for a short time in the Bay Area, with vocals by SoCal based Japanese transplant, producer/emcee Shing02, and with the song's hook sung by Emi Meyer. The design for the seven inch record and its packaging was all done by Acco, who told me that the idea for the record ties in with a Japanese tradition called Baumkuchen. "In the Japanese custom, we give Baumkuchen as gift at a marriage party. The Baumkuchen look similar to the rings of a tree. This mean a happiness to eternally." she said. "When I was a child, my mother told me that  'An old vinyl grow into Baumkuchen, it's very delicious.'" As pictured above, at the couple's wedding reception last October they played the "Coupling Song" single, which includes such romantic record-themed lyrics as "Every B needs an A, every B needs an A. Will you be my A? And I can be your B?" The full lyrics for this song appear below along with the audio for the vocal version. They pressed up 300 copies of the record (which has an instrumental version on side B) and saved some copies to give away but never sell.

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