Drive down Garden Grove Boulevard with your windows up (paying proper attention to the road in front of you) and you might not notice that you're passing through Little Seoul. There are no banners, memorials, murals, monuments or that many fluttering South Korean flags. Pass through on a bus and maybe you'll notice the Hangul signs and blue tile roofs. The best way to experience Little Seoul, despite some drawbacks, is by walking in it – although your hair might pick up the smell like bulgogi by the end of your ramble. The other day I headed over there to explore it, accompanied by Una Zipagan and host of the excellent Notebook on Cities and Culture podcast, Colin Marshall.
Sometimes nothing brings more pride and satisfaction to the Amoeba Music experience than browsing the selections in vinyl new arrivals and finding a classic, diamond-in-the-rough title like Now by Kim Jung Mi and songwriter/producer/arranger/guitar shaman Shin Joong Hyun properly reissued with loving care!
Recorded in 1973 during the height of Korea's rock music scene, this little elemental wonder, reminiscent of Fairport Convention's savvy blending of folk-tradition-meets-kaleidoscopic-rock, is chock full of poetic musings about springtime weather patterns and other precious things voiced by Shin's protegée Kim Jung Mi - a bookish wallflower-cum-chanteuse à laMarianne Faithful or Francois Hardy. The newly reissued version of this quintessence of psychedelia features Korean/English lyric translations, rare photos, re-mastered audio, and comprehensive liner notes by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes and Shin Joong Hyun expert Jae-Myeong Ro (director of the Korean Classical Music Record Museum, and author of the book Shin Joong Hyun and Beautiful Country. The 180 gram vinyl version of Now comes in a deluxe old-style jacket, avec obi, and has a full color insert with liner notes and rare photos. Scoop yours up soon!
Also, it must be said that this record rates high on the list of apropos album artwork in relation to the record's overall sound. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! Click play on the album's opening track below and have a long, lingering look at that cover photo. Careful now, overexposure might lead to excessive use of the word "vibe" as a verb and an unconscious referral to the word "energy" in the plural form.
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but up until three months ago, the only Korean films and dramas I’d seen were 녹색의자 (Green Chair),미녀는괴로워 (200 Pound Beauty) and 소울메이트 (Soulmate). I’d been given a grip of dramas by the good folks at MBC but I’d dutifully passed them along to my own soulmate’s mom, who’s a raging Korean drama addict.
This should be enough to get me season 2 of Lost on Blu-Ray...
The first thing my boyfriend told me upon awakening this morning was this:
“I dreamed that… there was an Amoeba that sold shrimp. Like, instead of a music store, it was a place where you could go and sell your used shrimp and… they’d re-sell it to places like Iraq. Saddam was actually buying the shrimp, so I guess he was still alive. I got good money for it, too. Like, $112.40.”
Okay – there’s a lot to love about this dream, and needless to say I started my day with laughter, but I think my favorite element is not that Saddam was alive again and personally brokering shellfish trade with my favorite record store, or even that the concept of “used shrimp” is so utterly disgusting as to be hilarious, but the fact that, in his dream, my boyfriend received and remembered such a distinct trade quote: $112.40. Not bad for a bag of second-hand, decapod crustaceans, no?
This was just after we’d been woken by our iHome. For our alarm, I have a playlist filled with classical music pieces specifically selected as the least traumatic way to start the day. One of the best is this little gem…
If I had to name my top five favorite composers of all time, Claude Debussy would be one of them. If you thought the above piece was lovely, I cannot recommend his other chamber works enough. I mean, I love everything he wrote – but his chamber pieces are what really kill me dead. Come on in to Amoeba Music Hollywood sometime and I’ll hook you up. Your life will be so much the dreamier for it.