Amoeblog

"Fruitvale Station" Is A Must-See Movie, Especially For Those In The Bay Area

Posted by Billyjam, July 17, 2013 01:54pm | Post a Comment


Fruitvale Station
- the award winning film about Oscar Grant that opened over the past weekend in select US city theaters and opens nationwide next week - is a highly recommended, really well made movie that anyone anywhere should enjoy viewing. But for those from the Oakland/Bay Area where the film's storyline is set (and filmed) the Ryan Coogler written and directed independent film will be particularly enjoyable, albeit sad and emotionally charged, since the storyline strikes so close to home. "Based on a true story" and capturing the final 24 + hours of the ill-fated life of the 22 year old African American, Hayward resident, who was famously shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009 in the BART station that carries the film's title, Fruitvale Station needs no spoiler alert. Unless you were living under a rock for the past four and a half years you know exactly what went down on that fateful day. Besides the film both opens and closes with the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant - the beginning done in that hand held phone/video style that most round the world saw on YouTube and the end in film style.  Like any really good film where you already know the outcome of its storyline Fruitvale Station is such a well written, acted, and perfectly paced film that even knowing exactly how the story will unfold audiences were still silently glued to the screen - truly a testament to the skill of first time director/Richmond CA resident Ryan Coogler.

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ONLY 8 YEARS OLD, THE iPOD HAS CHANGED HOW WE VIEW MUSIC

Posted by Billyjam, November 10, 2009 11:05am | Post a Comment
The Apple iPod turns the big 8 today. On the morning of November 10th, 2001, Apple first began selling its original version of the iPod MP3 music player. Pictured left, that original iPod sold for $399 + tax, and was marketed as an "Ultra-Portable MP3 Music Player" that "puts 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket."

Up to that point there had been many types/brands of MP3 players around (I knew a lot of folks who favored using their MiniDiscs as MP3 players) but no company had streamlined and made an MP3 player as user friendly as Apple did with the iPod. In 2001 it came with a 5GB hard drive, coupled with the first scrolling wheel and interface on an MP3 player.

Of course, in retrospect, compared to the variety of models of iPods and other MP3 players available to us today, this prototype iPod seems both bulky and pricey in contrast. Such is the way in this fast paced, ever-changing digital age. But what is most significant about the iPod is that in eight short years, it has not only changed the fortunes of the company that manufactures it (just as Apple's next big hit, the iPhone -- almost at 45 million in unit sales -- has similarly done), but it also has altered how the world listens to and consumes music.

Immediately before its commercial release back in late 2001, the iPod was being billed as the coming "Next Generation Player" and boy, that could not have been closer to the truth, since it literally signaled the generation of music consumers to come. The iPod was largely instrumental in changing everything to do with music; from listening to it, to buying or acquiring it, to selling, sharing, & storing music, etc, from that point on. In fact, in the music business that date, November 10th, 2001, could well be considered the watershed moment that divides two eras: BiP/AiP (Before iPod and After iPod).

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V.E.R.A. CLIQUE'S BART GRINDING HIP-HOP HUSTLE

Posted by Billyjam, January 5, 2009 11:35am | Post a Comment
v.e.r.a. clique
V.E.R.A. Clique
's Fresh Out The Box CD is available at Amoeba Music and other stores but you can also buy it on BART if you're lucky to run into one of its members selling the CD on a random BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train.

The Oakland based group, whose album track "The Movement" is featured on the recent BOMB Hip-Hop Compilation Vol. 2 (also avail at Amoeba), are a talented hard-working hip-hop crew whose pre- Oakland roots date back to 2002 to Bend, Oregon where the group's Anderson Ray and Mascen Apollo first crossed paths at a hip-hop event. Fast forward a few years and both hip-hoppers had moved south to the Bay Area where they formed the group V.E.R.A. Clique, with the name standing for Very Essence of Real Artists.

I first learned about V.E.R.A. Clique only recently and in a most unusual way -- while sitting on the Bay Point / Pittsburg to San Francisco BART, somewhere near the MacArthur stop, Mascen Apollo of the bartgroup walked by dirt hustlin his crew's CD to BART passengers, all the while keeping a watchful eye out for the BART police, who not only frown upon any business being conducted on BART, but will arrest perpetrators for doing so. Over the years I have seen Bay Area hip hop artists sell their CDs or cassettes at various public places. In bygone years, members of Hobo Junction or Mystik Journeymen and their extended Living Legends crew would often be found on Durant or Telegraph (outside Amoba) selling their cassettes. But selling on the BART train was a novel approach to hip-hop marketing or distribution that I had not witnessed before. Hence I was anxious to find out more about it so I recently caught up with the V.E.R.A. Clique member Mascen Apollo to ask him about slinging hip-hop on BART.

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Brandi Shearer's show, last night: a rainy Sunday in SF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 28, 2008 01:08pm | Post a Comment

Well, holy shit. I got to go out to a show last night. Did Hell freeze over?

I mean, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."

As some of you know, I don't get out much. Too very chronically sick, too very tired, too very many things that make it impossible to travel across town - much less across the bay. I mean, damn, maybe if we had something more like the Paris Metro instead of the wallet-breaking Bart (see bart.gov, out of towners, see the pathetic the bit of land it covers, down Market Street or Mission Street as if the rest of the city doesn't exist - and see the prices one pays for such paltry service.)

I could make my way around, with decent public transportation if it existed. Erm, most days.

But even the beloved and precious to me Paris Metro couldn't do a thing about the fact that I feel constantly as if I'm first day out of the hospital after a long stay for serious pneumonia. I'm quick to exhaust, wobbly baby deer legs, you name it. But I have a big brother who loves music.

My big brothers Kevin and Brian were instrumental in where I ended up today. Yes, I spent my childhood with a transistor radio glued to my ear, running it up the AM and FM in search of anything, which back then meant pure magic like Gladys Knight & The Pips. But it was my brothers' voluminous collection of vinyl records that brought me above what was easily found on the radios. Lest I forget, I am eternally grateful to my beautiful sister Jill who introduced me to the B-52's when I was 11, and my brother Scott who brought to me gems like Madman Across the Water, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy from Elton John. I eventually graduated to a clock radio which was heavier to hold against my head but did sound better, and a bit later on had my own turntable and a generous donation of vinyl spanning big band jazz LPs, Tom Jones 45s on the Parrot label ... to Jesus Christ Superstar from my beloved Godmother, Aunt Helen.

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